By Robin Connolly, Co-Editor-in-Chief and Teddy Coward, Co-Editor-in-Chief
We are aware that as students many of us feel rightly outraged at the current events in America. On Monday last week, a video was released of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Protests have since erupted across the country and have been followed by marches in London and other cities across the world.
It can be easy to feel powerless in these situations, especially due to our geographical separation from America and added complications owing to lockdown restrictions. However, there are still ways that students can show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Here’s how:
Firstly, it is vital that we educate ourselves, keep up to date with news and events and understand the history behind these campaigns.
Follow news outlets and campaign groups on social media, add yourself to Facebook groups, read blog posts and articles (here, for example).
Another excellent article, written by second year Bristol History student, Seleso Sepanya, outlining the history of racism and microaggression in the UK can be found here.
You may not be in a position where you are able to attend marches or donate.
If so, there are multiple petitions that have been set up that can be signed online, including the ‘Justice for George Floyd’ petition.
COVID-19 too has disproportionately affected black communities. In the US, African-Americans who catch the virus are 2.4 times likelier to die from it than their white counterparts.
The ‘Demand Racial Data on Coronavirus’ and ‘Coronavirus: Demand More from the Government can be found here.
There are multiple avenues open for people to donate money to the Black Lives Matter movement. For those who can offer financial assistance, here are some of the ways you can help:
- Directly through the Black Lives Matter website.
- To the Official George Floyd memorial fund, set up by Floyd's sister, here.
- To the Minnesota Freedom Fund, found here.
- To Students in Support of National Lawyers Guild Inc., see here.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund have recently requested that people now donate to organisations in the US to provide legal support for those who face racial injustices. Such groups include:
The Minnesota Freedom Fund recently wrote: 'With solemn gratitude, we have been flooded with tens of thousands donations large and small, totalling around $20 million dollars.
'We now encourage people to generously donate to George Floyd’s family and other local organizations, especially those which are Black and BIPOC led, and which are working to lift up communities, end police brutality, and build a more just future.'
It is likely, given the large numbers of people intending on going, that at least some of these demonstrations won't allow for social distancing measures to be followed at all times.
Event organisers are working hard to ensure people can follow the rules as much as possible - those arranging Sunday's peaceful demonstration in Bristol are sourcing PPE, though this will likely not cover everybody.
Those in the at-risk category, and those who live with people at-risk, have been advised to stay away from the protests, whilst those in attendance have been told to wear face masks.
There have been multiple protests organised across the UK – here are the details for some in key cities:
Bristol – 13:00, 7 June. Assemble at College Green. The Facebook event can be found here.
Bath – 14:00, 6 June. Assemble at Bath Green Park. The Facebook event can be found here.
London – 13:00, 6 June. Assemble at Parliament Square. 14:00, 7 June. Assemble at US Embassy.
Birmingham – 16:00, 4 June. Assemble at Victoria Square.
Manchester – 13:00, 6 June. Will take place in the Manchester city centre.
BE MINDFUL OF THE 'BLACK LIVES MATTER' MOVEMENT
Event organisers for Sunday's demonstration in Bristol have stressed the importance for the event 'to amplify black voices and stress the importance of black lives'.
Whilst the support of people outside the Black community is necessary and vital to the cause, it's important too to note when to step back and be respectful of black-only spaces; inherent in this is the need to acknowledge and recognise white privilege too.
Featured Image: Unsplash
Are you going to join Sunday's demonstration in Bristol?