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East Ham protest in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement draws ‘200-strong’ crowd

PUBLISHED: 17:00 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:49 22 June 2020

Protesters took the knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Picture: Newham SUTR

Protesters took the knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Picture: Newham SUTR

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A protest in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement drew a 200-strong crowd to East Ham, according to organisers.

Protesters in Central Park, East Ham, on Saturday, June 20. Picture: Newham SUTRProtesters in Central Park, East Ham, on Saturday, June 20. Picture: Newham SUTR

People gathered at Central Park on Saturday, June 20 for the event, staged by the campaign group Newham Stand Up to Racism and hosted by activists Kevin White and Lois Browne.

Mr White said: “There is fundamental change that needs to take place. For hundreds of years the system has worked against us. That needs to change.”

Ms Browne added: “Black lives matter. All black lives matter. Black trans lives matter. Black women’s lives matter. We stand with them all.”

Speakers from different generations of east London’s black and minority ethnic communities joined the protest as well as the family of Edson Da Costa who died after being stopped by the police in Beckton in 2017.

The organisers reported that 200 people attended. Picture: Newham SUTRThe organisers reported that 200 people attended. Picture: Newham SUTR

Actor Cathy Tyson, who co-starred in the film Mona Lisa, spoke of how the Black Lives Matter movement and death in police custody of the American, George Floyd, had moved her to protest.

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Comedian Quincy, who grew up in Canning Town, spoke of what life is like for young black people.

Venda Premkumar, joint secretary of Redbridge National Education Union, highlighted the discriminatory treatment of young black boys in schools and of the need to change the curriculum.

Unmesh Desai spoke during the protest. Picture: Newham SUTRUnmesh Desai spoke during the protest. Picture: Newham SUTR

Zain Miah, vice-chairman of West Ham constituency Labour Party, spoke of the impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority communities and the prevalence of systemic racism.

Writer and actor, Rocio Rodriguez-Inniss, spoke of how the movement’s need to speak the words Black Lives Matter brought to the forefront that to so many people, black lives don’t matter.

Amid reports of a planned counter-demonstration by far right activists, Unmesh Desai, London Assembly member for City and East, spoke of the need to oppose them.

He declared: “I certainly was going to be here to make sure they do not set foot in our park. This park belongs to us.”

The names of those who lost their lives in police custody in the US and UK were read.

Attendees took the knee in memory of Mr Floyd to chants of “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace” before a one-minute silence.


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