All Black Lives UK demonstrations take place in Eastville Park

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By Teddy Coward, Co-Editor-in-Chief, and Megan Evans, News Subeditor

Todays event aims to bring together Black-owned business and organisations from in and around the Bristol area.

Hundreds have gathered to protest in Bristol’s Eastville Park today, in support of Black Lives Matter and the promotion of Black-owned businesses.

The event has been set up by the same organisers of the demonstrations on 7 June, where the statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down, making headlines around the world.

The Black Lives Still Matter demonstration is being run by the Bristol branch of the anti-racist group All Black Lives UK.

Whilst the group’s previous demonstration on 7 June was held in direct response to police brutality and the death of George Floyd, today’s event aims to bring together Black-owned businesses and organisations from in and around the Bristol-area to promote and encourage their work.

Speaking to Epigram before the event, organiser Liza Bilal said: ‘This demonstration isn't just about raising awareness about the community that we're living in at the moment.

‘We’ve got different organizations, charities and Black-centred businesses that are coming in to promote themselves because we want it to be not just a moment of mourning.

‘Having a moment of catharsis and anger I think is important when you're trying to raise awareness about systemic racism, much like the last protests [in Bristol].

‘But,’ she added, ‘going forward it’s about finding ways to uplift the Black communities, in the cities that we live in so that we can build a fair society; build in a way for Black people to be able to sort of start getting a foot in business and in the economy in the way that white people have hundreds and hundreds of years to build generational wealth.’

Asked about the social-distancing measures in place, Liza added: ‘We’re in a much larger space, there’s not as many people attending as there were at our last protest. We’ve tried our hardest to ensure we can apply social-distancing in the breadth of the park’.

‘We’re putting tents and stalls away from each other so that people aren’t crowding all in one area as well.’

Attendants were also told to wear PPE to the event, whilst those at high risk of infection to coronavirus were asked not to attend.

The demonstration is being run by the Bristol branch of the anti-racist group All Black Lives UK | Harald Lummis

Around 100 people gathered from 1pm at the site on Eastville Park.

At 1:35pm organisers began explaining the plans for the event before introducing the Bristol-based poet Lawrence Hoo, who led a reading.

This was followed by a speech from Green Party Councillor, Cleo Lake, who spoke on the issue of the displacement of Black people in the UK.

The former Lord Mayor of Bristol said: ‘It’s about time we were stopped being denied of our rights, displaced and disrespected quite frankly’.

‘Our lives have become theory on a bit of paper. Well my life is more than that. My life matters. Your life matters. Our life matters and Black lives matter.

‘And when we say ‘All Black Lives Matter’ we are talking about the brothers and sisters on the continent who don’t even have the privilege to stand up and talk today and, who are still choked by inequality, by these financial trade systems that take, pillage, distract; cause ecocide and genocide.’

Throughout the event, Black-owned businesses, including fashion label SHOLA KNITS, held stalls and promoted their brands alongside civil action groups and charities.

The proceedings closed with a reading from Bristol-based writer, historian and performer Edson Burton before the event finished at approximately 5:40pm.

Featured: Epigram / Harald Lummis


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