Last week George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed when a white police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Footage of the event showed Floyd lying face down, repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. After his death, Black Lives Matter protests have been held around the world, with thousands turning out to march against police brutality and systemic racism.
These matters aren’t unique to the States. In the UK, black people are statistically more likely to have force used against them by the police. ONS has also found that black people are four times more likely to die of coronavirus; and a disproportionate number of BAME people have been fined for breaching lockdown rules. Recently Belly Mujinga, a black National Rail worker, was spat on by somebody saying they had had Covid-19 whilst at work. She later died of coronavirus, with the British Transport Police now saying they’re taking no further action.
Peaceful protests are taking place in cities across the UK; but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, so it’s important to ensure you stay safe. If you do attend – ensure you take precautions. Protestors are advised to wear a mask, try to social distance, and avoid travelling by public transport. It is also advised that protestors consider self-isolating for 14 days after, and avoid visiting more vulnerable friends and family.
Guides are circulating online about what to wear and bring whilst protesting. In the US – where tear gas is more commonly used – make sure you don’t wear contact lenses or makeup.
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BE SAFE. Here’s our guide on being prepared for safe protests. PLEASE READ ⬇️ . 1. LOOK OUT FOR THINGS THAT DON’T SEEM RIGHT. There are increasing reports and investigations that white supremacists may be infiltrating these protests, breaking windows and destroying property. If anything seems off to you, DOCUMENT IT. Always check who is organizing. . 2. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS OF GRASSROOTS BLACK ORGANIZERS. They have been at this a long time and are disciplined in the ropes of community organizing and demonstration. It IS a discipline. Follow trusted leaders whose goal has been the focused pursuit of justice. If they just showed up, that’s a red flag. . 3. HAVE A BUDDY. Make sure someone is keeping an eye on you and check in on them. . 4. STAY SAFE and take care of each other. 💜
Those protesting in the UK, be aware police can FINE & possibly ARREST those in large gatherings who refuse to disperse. STAY SAFE. COVER YOUR FACE. SOCIAL DISTANCE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. THE PANDEMIC IS STILL REAL AND AFFECTS OUR COMMUNITIES THE MOST. #BLMLDN pic.twitter.com/ISO5kUsxHl
— Meme kami -BLM- (@SashAxles) May 31, 2020
If you want to protest, here’s a list of some of the upcoming events:
Thursday 4 June
Birmingham, Victoria Square, 4pm
Saturday 6 June
London, Parliament Square, 1pm
Leicester, Clock Tower, 1pm
Manchester, Piccadilly Gardens, 1pm
Sheffield, Devonshire Green, 1pm
Cambridge, Parker’s Piece, 2pm
Ipswich, Town Hall, 2pm
Sunday 7 June
Bristol, College Green, 1pm
Edinburgh, Princes Street Gardens, 1pm
Colchester, Castle Park, 1pm
Manchester, St. Peter’s Square, 2pm
London, US Embassy, 2pm
Norwich, Haymarket, 2pm
Derby, Derby Council House, 2pm
Wednesday 10 June
Hull, Queens Gardens, 1pm
If you’re unable to attend the ongoing protests, there are plenty of ways to make your voice heard and to support Black Lives Matter. Here’s where you can start:
If you’re able to, donate. If you haven’t already, consider giving money to some of the organisations and charities below.
George Floyd Memorial Fund
This has been set up by George’s family, with money going towards funeral expenses, grief counselling, and to pay for court proceedings as they continue to seek justice for George Floyd.
Black Lives Matter UK
The UK division of the Black Lives Matter is “guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white-supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world”. They’re currently raising money on GoFundMe towards “developing and distributing educational resources”, “providing emergency relief to black communities bearing the brunt of the Coronavirus crisis”, as well as working to make changes in the law and working alongside other anti-racists organisations.
Belly Mujinga’s fund
In April, black National Rail worker Belly Mujinga was spat on by somebody saying they had Covid-19 whilst working at London’s Victoria Station. She later died of coronavirus. The British Transport Police have now confirmed that no further action will be taken in relation to her death, concluding that there’s “no evidence to substantiate any criminal offences” and that they’re “confident that this incident did not lead to Belly Mujinga contracting Covid-19”. This fundraiser is raising money to support Mujinga’s family, including her daughter.
The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
Named after Stephen Lawrence – a black teenager who was killed in a racist attack in 1993 – the organisation “works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13 to 30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice” as well as working to “influence others to create a fairer society in which everyone, regardless of their background, can flourish”.
Black Minds Matter UK
Black Minds Matter UK is raising money to support black people struggling with mental health difficulties, saying: “We understand more than ever the effects of racial discrimination across this country, for many black people the cases of violence against individuals such as George Floyd in the USA and the many historic incidents in the UK are deeply triggering. Treating mental health must be a priority in the fight for equality and welfare of black people in the UK.”
Exist Loudly Fund to Support Queer Black YP
Set up by Tanya Compas, the Exist Loudly Fund has been set up to fundraise to “create tangible change for Queer Black Young people in London and also nationally/internationally digitally”. It will provide workshops, mentoring and group activities for young Queer black people, as well as covering the cost of Queer Black Christmas “an annual celebration for Queer Black Young people who are experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment”.
Southall Black Sisters
Established in 1979, Southall Black Sisters aims to “highlight and challenge all forms gender-related violence against women, empower them to gain more control over their lives; live without fear of violence and assert their human rights to justice, equality and freedom”. They offer specialist advice, casework and advocacy to women experiencing violence and abuse.
National Bail Fund Network
This organisation is a network of over 60 bail funds across the US, which help free people from jail and immigration detention – including those who’ve been arrested whilst protesting.
If you’re unable to donate, you can contribute to Black Lives Matter financially without spending any money. Zoe Amira has created a video on YouTube, in which all advertising revenue will be donated to “the associations that offer protester bail funds, help pay for family funerals, and advocacy listed in the beginning of the video”. When you watch the video ensure you keep the ads running (and disable any adblockers you may use).
Make your voice heard and sign petitions. Here are some to start with:
Justice for George Floyd
This petition calls for justice for George Floyd, asking that Mayor Jacob Frey (the Mayor of Minneapolis) and DA Mike Freeman (the county attorney for Hennepin County), to have the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd fired, and charged. All four officers involved in Floyd’s death have now had charges brought against them, but you can still sign the petition to make your voice heard and call for justice.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International have a petition demanding that the USA authorities hold “all those responsible in the death of George Floyd and many others are held accountable”, Color Of Change have a petition pushing for the police officers involved in the killing are charged with murder, and NAACP have a petition calling for an independent prosecutor to lead the investigation into his death, as well as “sweeping police reform–federal legislation mandating a zero-tolerance approach in penalizing and/or prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent, and non-resisting individuals in an arrest”.
Justice for Belly Mujinga
This petition is calling for justice for black National Rail worker Belly Mujinga, who died after being spat on by a man saying he had Covid-19. The petition was initially aiming to find and prosecute the person who assaulted Mujinga, and for frontline Transport for London workers to be provided with PPE; but is now being managed by her family, who say: “At this time, we are not pursuing a prosecution but are still campaigning to secure protection and support for those working at GTR. Please sign to help us”
Suspend UK export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to USA
This Change UK petition is aiming to suspend the export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields which are being used against protesters by US forces. Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s military, security and police programme director, says: “After the shocking images of the police and national guard using excessive force against Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, the UK should immediately freeze all policing and security equipment export licences to the US where there’s a clear risk of further misuse – something the UK is obliged to do under its own laws.”
Stand with Breonna
Breonna Taylor – an Emergency medical technician in Louisville, Kentucky – was shot and killed whilst in her own apartment by Louisville Metro Police Department, when they executed a drug raid at the wrong address for somebody who had already been arrested. The petition is calling on “Louisville Metro Police Department to terminate the police involved, and for a special prosecutor to be appointed to bring forward charges against the officers and oversee all parts of this case”
Battle racism by updating GCSE reading lists
This petition is advocating for more diversity within the British curriculum, saying: “we should grasp the opportunity to teach students about diversity and our current society, including the injustices”. They’re appealing for Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race and The Good Immigrant – a collection of essays edited by Nikesh Shukla – to be added to the GCSE reading lists.
There are plenty of online resources and books available, so take time to research and educate yourself.
Mireille Cassandra Harper shared a practical guide to “non-optical allyship” which is available to read online, and it includes a list of people to follow on social media for further educating yourself.
For people who actively want to be support and be an ally right now, I have written a thread. pic.twitter.com/kTvDgXXO5L
— Mireille Cassandra Harper (@mireillecharper) May 29, 2020
Clive Lewis has provided a Twitter thread of articles you can read, there’s a wealth of information and resources in this Google folder created by Emma English and Twitter user @FILMSHAWTY has shared a thread of documentaries to help educate about racism, police brutality and more.
This is by no means a complete list, but if you’re looking for literature to educate yourself consider reading one of the following (and if you’ve already read it, consider gifting your copy to a family member or friend, and donating what it would have cost):
Nikesh Shukla – The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America
Layla Saad – Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World
Reni Eddo-Lodge – Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Akala – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire
Ibram X. Kendi – How To Be an Antiracist
Wesley Lowery – They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter
Ta-Nehisi Coates – We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
Bernardine Evaristo – Girl, Woman, Other
Candice Carty-Williams – Queenie
Toni Morrison – Beloved
EMAIL YOUR MP
Find your local MP (you can work it out here) and email them asking for change.
They’re the ones with power to change legislation, so write to them asking what they’re doing about police brutality in the UK, to publicly support Black Lives Matter, to support further investigation into the death of Belly Mujinga or to support the suspension of UK sales of teargas, riot shields and rubber bullets to the US.
SUPPORT BLACK BUSINESSES
Actively invest in Black Owned Businesses by changing your shopping habits where you can. The website UK Black Owned Businesses allows you to search through their catalogue, and the UK Black Business Show has provided a Twitter thread of businesses you can support.
SUPPORT INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
gal-dem is a UK based website providing essential journalism by women and non-binary people of colour. They launched a membership platform, so you can support their work with a monthly donation.