VIDEO: Black Lives Matter protests erupt across Birmingham in wake of George Floyd murder
Black Lives Matter and related anti-racism protests are being held across Birmingham in response to the police murder of George Floyd in the US, and to challenge institutional racism across the world.
Several protests have been held across the UK city including a march through Soho Road in Handsworth on Monday (June 1), followed by three protests in one single day on Wednesday (June 3).
WATCH: Black Lives Matter protests held in Birmingham
Over 120 students and supporters congregated in Selly Park on Wednesday in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham for a vigil during which attendees were encouraged to ‘take a knee’ for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the duration of time police officer Derek Chauvin forced his knee onto victim George Floyd’s neck leading to his murder.
During the sit-in, there was also a reading of names to remember British victims who died from of racist attacks and police brutality, while students spoke to share their own personal experiences of receiving racist abuse.
The event was organised by student activists Rebecca-Tayler Edwards, Jerusha Sivarajakulendran and Joshua Williams.
On the same day, two separate protests were also held in Victoria Square in the city centre. During the first, Kadisha Brown-Burrell spoke passionately about the death of her late brother Kingsley Burrell in police custody and the campaign seeking justice. She also highlighted the case of Michael Powell, who similarly died in police custody in September 2003. Powell was the cousin of famous Brummie author and poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
In the evening, anti-racism campaigners came together for a solidarity vigil which observed ‘social distancing’ measures amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Organised by Stand Up To Racism, community activists Salma Yaqoob and Shane Ward addressed the crowd before taking part in ‘taking the knee’ on the large steps outside the Birmingham Council House.
In what is one if the city’s largest ever protests, Thursday saw over 4,000 people gather in Centenary Square to vent their frustrations at institutional and structural racism and inequality. Armed with banners and placards, chants over megaphones, and heated and headstrong speeches; the peaceful mass demonstration embraced multiple displays of action including smaller rallies and marches across the city centre.
Protesters once again ‘took a knee’, this time outside the West Midlands Police headquarters in Lloyd House while others marched through New Street, Dale End and even to Handsworth from the city centre.
Direct action challenging racial inequality are set to continue in Birmingham and the West Midlands, with several physical and online meetings and protests planned for the coming weeks.