Sunday, 27 Sep 2020

BLM protesters block Notting Hill roads on first day of virtual carnival

Anti-racism protesters have blocked roads outside a West London tube station on what would have been the first day of the Notting Hill Carnival.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Notting Hill station for the first Million People March, which is protesting against systemic racism and taking place in lieu of this year’s event. 

Demonstrators lay down in the road blocking oncoming traffic, before heading along Bayswater Road and finishing in Hyde Park.

The two-day carnival – which is this year taking place online amid coronavirus safety concerns – began in 1966 and has become one of the most prominent celebrations of Black British culture.

Protesters wearing face masks chanted black lives matter and carried anti-racism placards, while music played in the background. At several points along the way the crowd stopped, sitting down in the road and even breaking into a rendition of Redemption Song by Bob Marley, as demonstrators raised their fists.

In a statement released online, organisers wrote that their movement was formed in response to ‘current and historic inequalities’ that have come to the surface after the police killing of George Floyd.

They explained: ‘The death of George Floyd has reawakened a deep anger towards the current unjust treatment of people, particularly black people, in custody, on arrest as well as during interactions with police in the UK…

‘Thus the group was formed by a black led organisation working to create the coalition movement that is now in motion, by working together to impugn the current inequalities that beset the black community due to entrenched and systemic racism.’

The statement continued: ‘We are a coalition that is no different to the Nurses or students who recently successfully demonstrated for change. 

‘Our peace March is being organised with social distancing in mind and to this end we have been donated free masks (Mask up) and PPE donations from Taking the Initiative party, a party supporting working class Britain, who thus far feel they are unrepresented in the political arena and support issues and the need for change within the black community, among others, to ensure that everyone attending is safe.’

The group said it is aiming to highlight the ‘Race Offenders Register, decolonisation of the education curriculum, reparations, Justice for Windrush, Immigration in Britain, the Living wage and unjust mass policing of the black community’.

Under new Health Protection Regulations 2020, introduced following the coronavirus pandemic, protests of more than 30 people are allowed as long as the organisers have completed a risk assessment.

The Million People March comes the day after thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London to protest against lockdown restrictions and the wearing of face masks.

Police attempted to disperse crowds and arrested two men on suspicion of breaking newly-imposed coronavirus regulations.

The march was organised by Ken Hinds, an adviser to Scotland Yard, Sasha Johnson, a youth worker and activist, rapper 2 Badda, and author Anthony Spencer.

Ms Johnson said: ‘As a people, we’re not going to stop until we have equal rights and justice.

‘We don’t just want tokenistic promises, we don’t want it to come from a hegemonic standpoint.

‘We want it to be for the people.’

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