Kneel For Floyd, Trafalgar Square, London
Photography by Adem Aydin
The ‘Kneel for Floyd’ rally mobilised several thousand on Sunday afternoon in London. A largely youthful crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest the murder of George Floyd. Kneeling in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, the crowds could be heard chanting Floyd’s name, ‘Black Lives Matter', ‘No Silence, No Peace,’ and ’Stop Killing The Mandem,' as they demanded justice for George Floyd.
NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE
Floyd died while in the custody of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last week. His death the latest in a long and damning list of black people who have lost their lives at the hands of the US police force.
Derek Chavin, the officer who can be seen in the viral video with his knee on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with second-degree murder and other officers on the scene have been arrested. Protestors have called for an investigation into those on duty alongside Chavin, who stood by as Floyd continuously pled that he was unable to breathe.
As protestors mobilised across America, it was only a matter of time until people took to the streets across Europe.
In London, social distancing was largely respected - given the circumstances - an impressive achievement. Megaphone bearers highlighted the importance of recognising the institutionalised racism that has put large numbers of BAME communities on the frontline against the Covid-19 pandemic. The disease has been particularly fatal to people from BAME backgrounds.
There was a sense that this was the first outing for many since the UK lockdown; empty streets were theirs for the taking as they marched through Whitehall and Westminister
While riots have broken out across the United States, it must be said that in London, Sunday’s rally and spontaneous march to the US embassy were peaceful from beginning to end.
There were many who stressed that ‘White Silence is Violence’ and that the UK is not perfect, as protestors passionately chanted the names of men and women who have died in police custody here, and the USA.
The rally began to move towards number 10. It seemed to catch the police off-guard; perhaps the vast number of protestors or the move towards Westminister took them by surprise. While at university I covered many demonstrations while studying
Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, and yet this one felt exhilarating, defiant and significantly multi-cultural.
As the crowd and Boris Bikes sped past number 10, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the pandemic if it wasn’t for the masks on the cyclists and protestors.
As we crossed Lambeth Bridge, the protestors were met with zero force and largely had the streets to themselves. Drivers and motorcyclists beeped their horns in a show of solidarity as the crowds filtered into Vauxhall.
Protestors arrived then linked arms at the American Embassy in Battersea as the frontline called for people to sit, kneel and remain peaceful to ensure the protest was not undermined by the sort of violence we’re seeing in America. Despite the heat, the large crowd and presence of the police force; the protestors held their nerve.