Black Lives Matter: ‘National conversation’ about race is needed in the UK


On May 25 2020, 46-year old George Floyd died after being restrained by police in Minneapolis, who held him down and pressed a knee to his neck.

In footage posted online, Mr Floyd, a black man, could be heard telling the officers that he could not breathe and calling out for his mother for eight minutes.

The incident sparked global outrage and led to both violent and non-violent protests in a movement that became known as Black Lives Matter (BLM).

Over the next few months, millions of people gathered in cities across the world to march in support of the BLM movement.

Major demonstrations took place in London in the first few weeks of June amid concerns about social distancing at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thousands of people marched through the capital, stopping to “take the knee”, a gesture of solidarity created by American football player Colin Kapernick in 2016 to oppose racial inequality.

Star Wars actor John Boyega told a crowd in Hyde Park that those gathered were “a physical representation of our support for George Floyd”.

“You are important, your individual power, your individual right is very, very important, we can all join together to make this a better world,” he said, urging demonstrators to remain peaceful.

Other celebrities who joined marches across the country included rapper Stormzy, footballer Rio Ferdinand, boxer Anthony Joshua and former Love Island contestant Amber Gill.

Demonstrations also took place in other UK cities including Glasgow, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham and Bristol.

Patrick Vernon, author and social commentator, believes that the BLM movement was helped in some ways by the coronavirus crisis.

“The world stood still,” he said.

“Because the world stood still, that was a time when people could reflect in Britain about issues of discrimination in Britain.

“We have never made an effort to pursue time for reflection about our historical past.”

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