In a show of support to our brothers and sisters across the pond, anti-racist protests are being organized in most major towns and cities across the UK in solidarity with US campaigners for Black Lives Matter.
Thousands took to the streets to protest ‘Police Brutality’ last week after George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in police custody having been knelt on at the neck by a police officer for almost nine minutes.
With protests breaking out first in Minnesota after footage from the incident had since gone viral, the movement has gained a shower of support from a global following and has revived the #BlackLivesMatter activism on an unprecedented scale.
In the weeks to come, numerous demonstrations are scheduled to take place here in the UK with marches, chants, rallies and speeches just a few of the expected activity.
Below are further details of these events and a few suggestions on how to minimise risk and protest safely as students during the current period of a global pandemic.
Schedule of confirmed events
THURSDAY, JUNE 4
- Birmingham – Victoria Square, 4pm (socially-distanced peaceful stand-in, no marching)
- Portsmouth – Guildhall, 1pm
FRIDAY, JUNE 5
- Bristol – College Green, 1pm
SATURDAY, JUNE 6
- London – Parliament Square, 1pm
- Manchester – Piccadilly Gardens, 1pm
- Newcastle Upon Tyne – MOVED ONLINE, 1pm
- Leicester – Clock Tower, 1pm
- Sheffield – Devonshire Green, 1pm
- Ipswich – Town Hall, 2pm
SUNDAY, JUNE 7
- London – US Embassy, 2pm
- Nottingham – Market Square, 12pm (organised independently of Black Lives Matter UK – Nottingham Activists)
- Manchester – St. Peter’s Square, 2pm
- Edinburgh – Princes Street Gardens, 1pm
- Glasgow – George Square, 2pm
- Bristol – College Green, 2pm
- Norwich – Haymarket, 2pm
- Coventry – Godiva, 1pm
- Derby – Derby Council House, 2pm
- Colchester – Castle Park, 1pm
MONDAY, JUNE 8
- Dublin – The Spire, 1pm
WEDNESDAY JUNE 10
- Hull – Queens Gardens, 1pm
SATURDAY JUNE 13
- Reading – Town Hall, 12pm
- Kings Lynn – Town Hall, 2pm
For events taking place in London: Click this link
Protesting safely and responsibly
It should be well and duly noted that given the current circumstances of COVID-19, lockdown restrictions remain in place, with mass gatherings forbidden.
It has been requested by organisers of the protests for its participants to obey the pre-existing laws by wearing masks and gloves while also observing social distancing.
In addition, here are 5 simple steps of how you can minimise risk and keep yourself as safe as possible while protesting.
- Assess your own risk level.
Before you head out, ask yourself whether you are ‘high-risk’. Do you have symptoms of the virus? Do you think you will be putting yourself and others in danger of becoming ill? If your answer is yes to any of these, then its preferred you refrain from participating in the protests. However, there are other ways you can show support. You could spread awareness online, donate to the cause and the BLM movement or even support those who are protesting by offering up bottles of water and food from the side-lines to ensure that you aren’t getting too close to anyone and provided you wear gloves and a mask.
- If you have symptoms.
If you are showing signs of the virus and still need to go outside, make sure to stay away from large crowds and highly populated areas where the virus could potentially transmit across to others. Preferably you should be self-isolating and staying indoors as much as possible to give yourself a chance to recover faster.
- Wear a mask at all times.
If you do not have symptoms and are not at high-risk, it is essential that as a participant you wear a mask at all times. Doctors recommend ideally a properly fitting face mask with a filter however, if that is unavailable, a normal material mask or a scarf tied around the face should suffice. You will always be tempted to remove your mask to join in with the chants, but it is essential that you keep the mask on.
- Be Hygienic.
The simplest tip to staying safe from the virus. Carry with you a hand sanitiser to be able to ensure that you keep your hands as clean as possible. Remember to cough and sneeze into your elbow. Avoid touching your face, you could possibly be in contact with others and there is a chance that virus particles could enter your respiratory system. Wear a pair of gloves if possible, but still make sure to avoid touching surfaces. Most importantly, make sure to stay hydrated during the protests to ensure your immune system is well supported.
- Try and avoid the densest crowds.
Lockdown rules still apply, even in these situations. Therefore, try and practice social-distancing whenever possible. This will most certainly be difficult when one is right in the midst’s of the protest, so try and stick to the outer areas and/or the side-lines as much as possible.
Most importantly, it is essential that the protests are conducted PEACEFULLY.
So far, most protests that have taken place over the past weeks in the UK have been predominantly peaceful, organisers and protest co-ordinators have shared event posters online stating that violent escalation will not be condoned.
Organisers are circulating further information and advice as follows:
1. Remain peaceful
2. Bring protective masks and gloves, and if possible wet-wipes or anti-bacterial gel
3. Observe two-metre social distancing guidelines
4. Pack food and water
5. Bring identification and emergency contact information
6. Wear comfortable shoes
7. Take sun-protection
8. In case of arrest, carry essential medicines (e.g. inhalers) on your person
9. Women on periods are advised to wear pads instead of tampons in case toilet access is restricted by events or arrest