Beeston residents braved a downpour yesterday evening (25 May 2021) to mark the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd and reaffirm the message that Black Lives Matter.
Organiser Sam Kirk reminded the group that racism was still a big issue in Britain and read out a list of black people who have died at the hands of the British Police incuding Cherry Groce and Dalian Atkinson amongst many others. To those who say ‘all lives matter’, she said:
“Until black lives matter, not all lives matter.”
Cllr Gohar Almass said:
“I’m grateful to Stand Up To Racism for organising this vigil. When the attacks happened on the Mosque and Gudwara they took the initiative and brought people together. In Beeston we are a united community, people have tried to divide us but they’ve always failed.”
Steve Johnston spoke on behalf of Leeds Trades Council. He said trade unions support the fight against racism because divides workers and plays into employers’ hands. Racism weakens white workers as well as black workers. He suggested we take inspiration from Leeds United a crowd of 10,000 applauded the players taking the knee on Sunday, a situation that wouldn’t have happened 30 years ago.
Cllr Angela Gabriel said:
“We have to be very careful with our language and we have to be able to call people out. Often you will hear people saying disrespectful things and you just think Oh I won’t say anything. But now if I hear anybody saying anything that is disrespectful to anybody I will now call them out, if we don’t we’ll never change people’s perception.”
A woman called Eunice spoke of her experience:
“I came here in 2013 I felt England was an open country, but since then things have changed for the worst. Beeston is different, it is strong, resilient and united; I felt welcomed, I feel it is my home now. My children are growing up hear, this is their country and I want them to feel welcome here.”
Sally Kincaid from the National Education Union said as she looked around those present:
“This is Beeston, this is what Beeston looks like.”