Black Lives Matter: Protester responds to crowding criticism

By Adam Jones   |   University for the Creative Arts BA (Hons) Journalism and Media Production student   |
Monday 22nd June 2020 3:08 pm
@ajonesrfc
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A police officer looks on as protesters gather at the Royal Deer crossroads in Farnham ()

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RESIDENTS across Farnham took part in a further Black Lives Matter demonstration last Saturday – and there were mixed opinions about the protests.

While some endorsed the peaceful protest in their show of solidarity with the black community, others were critical of an apparent lack of social distancing at the demonstration.

One of the participants at the demonstration, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I decided to go to the protest because it’s important to give the people who don’t have a chance to speak a voice, even if it’s through me.

“It’s vital everyone is educated to some degree about oppression and discrimination.

“And if the way to get people to learn that stuff is through peaceful protesting – and I emphasise the word ‘peaceful’ – in the local area, then that is a big plus.

“The whole goal of this movement is just to make people have the same rights across the board and be equally treated in society.

“That is a basic human right – to actually be treated with love and respect.”

Asked if they understood why some people will be upset about the apparent lack of social distancing at Saturday’s demonstration, the protester added: “I completely understand and empathise with those concerns because we are in the middle of the pandemic – that was not ignored.

“You may not be able to see well from the photos but we were social distancing and keeping in our bubbles.

“We were staying apart when we could but when we were all instructed to return to the pavement by the police, we were all inevitably crowded together and unfortunately we could not do anything about that.

“We do not blame the police and a lot of them were very helpful.

“It’s also important to add every single one of the protesters I saw had a mask on. Almost all of them wore gloves and if they did not, they had hand sanitiser instead.

“The people who organised the protest were even giving out masks to people who didn’t have them.”

The Black Lives Matter movement aims to eradicate white supremacy across the world and improve the lives of black people in all communities.

Although many would argue that has not been achieved yet, the Farnham protester said they had already achieved one of their aims.

“I feel we’ve already achieved one of our goals for this movement – which was to start a conversation.

“Be it nationally or locally, people are having conversations and they are learning about the Black Lives Matter movement and black history in general.

“In school, in my experience, we are barely taught about slavery. That’s not good enough.

“On a national scale, I would like there to be a review to actually embed black and African history into our school curriculum.

“This is not an ‘us against them’ thing, we are trying to speak about this issue, please listen to us.”

The protest, which was organised by the BLM movement in the town, started at Farnham Park at 1pm before protesters marched through the town centre and to their final destination at Gostrey Meadow.

People going to the event were requested by the local movement to remain in groups no larger than six, observe the two-metre social distancing rules, wear personal protective equipment and use hand sanitiser.

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