I am a 21 year old black male who grew up in Fulham.
31st May 2020
I had seen the murder of George Floyd in the US all over twitter. My heart just sank. I thought to myself I can’t imagine what his final moments must have been like & also how his family must feel. No one's final words should be “I can’t breathe”. I felt angry, upset, outraged. I immediately took to twitter to share my thoughts and demand justice. I then started browsing twitter to see how other people were feeling in regard to the brutal murder. I saw that people were rallying and organising which made me feel some relief, seeing people of all creeds and colours rallying and organising for the same objective.
I woke up on Sunday morning the 31st May filled with an immense sense of emotion, knowing the objectives in my head of why I was going to the march, justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery & relative to the UK - Belly Mujinga - who sadly passed away due to being spat on at work by someone who said they had Covid-19. Institutional racism at its finest: the transport police had decided to not take the case any further & in turn not arrest or charge anyone but when a white officer is spat at by someone who joked he had Coronavirus he is jailed for 12 months.
I left out at about 12pm in the afternoon and got down to Trafalgar Square at minutes to 1pm.
When I parked my bike up I saw a sea of people which I thought was in the hundreds - turns out it was in the thousands, chants of “no justice, no peace” & “I can’t breathe” were prevalent, I joined in, every one took a knee for George Floyd.
At that point I felt a feeling that I have never felt in my heart of pride mixed with sadness, black people have gone through institutional and blatant #racism for years in the US and the UK. We then remained in silence for a couple of minutes, then we headed towards the US embassy, we went via Vauxhall, I led some chants of “say his name” & “say her name” & “I cant breathe”, the guy next to me led chants of the “UK is not innocent” and “no justice no peace” & “hands up don’t shoot”. We stopped at the back of Downing Street for a short while where we kneeled, I will say it here and be honest - there where chants of “Boris is a racist” and I will not lie I was chanting that with pride, and he deserved it, how can we as a country have a Prime minster that is clearly racist to every minority whether that be him saying black people have “watermelon smiles” and calling us “piccaninnies”, or saying Muslim women look like “letter boxes” or that gay people are “tank top bum boys”.
Then after about forty five minutes we continued to head towards the US embassy in Battersea chanting all the way, some ambulance drivers got out of their cars and stood and applauded, loads of drivers on the road sounding their horns and putting their fists in the air in support - I felt like finally we were being listened to.
At the US embassy we were greeted with rows upon rows of police and I had a feeling they would be there because my phone signal was scrambling all over the place and because of the helicopter flying above. I remember thinking to myself - it has went so well I hope it doesn’t turn violent now - I was so proud that everyone seemed not to be acknowledging the over excessive police presence, blocking it out and remembering why we were there, to make it known that we have a voice and enough is enough. Protests remained peaceful, and we directly started chanting at the US embassy “Justice for George Floyd” “Black Lives Matter” on repeat. We remained outside the US embassy for about a hour. In that time we took a knee for George Floyd with some people even shedding a tear.
We then proceeded to continue our journey walking from Battersea to Sloane Square from Chelsea to Knightsbridge, every car stopping, even people from parks gathering and clapping, filming, social distancing rules abided by where possible and we all had facemasks.
Something that I will hold in my heart forever and even opened my eyes is that this hasn’t just affected black people like myself, it has effected a variety of people from all different races, young and old.
I look back at that day with so much proudness: we were heard. But I’m under no false illusions, there is still a very long way to go to see change here and in the US.
I will treasure loads of memories from that day, but one in particular - because it was so unexpected - was a chat I had, a chat with an elderly white man and we were sharing experiences with each other. He apologised on behalf of the UK and the police for any racism I had received and just as much as he doesn’t know what it is like to grow up a young black male in the UK, I also don’t know what it is like to grow up as a white male in society. The key to making change and getting justice is conversation & from conversation comes education, two people that never would have been brought together if it was not for the march were standing side by side for the same common goal.
I will finish up on this quote. The late great Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.