Black Lives Matter protest: “I’ve been in turmoil all week”

By Joanna Raikes

The peaceful anti-racism protests currently taking place are a controversial issue. I rarely share my opinion like this on social media but felt that, since I posted pics of the protest I attended yesterday, I should explain my position on the matter. There also seems to be a lot of anger towards protesters which I feel is unfair.

I’ll start by saying that I believe the behaviour of a minority of people who have turned to violence and vandalism of unrelated property and memorials is unacceptable and counter productive. (Not the one in Bristol. I’m all for that!) However, they are just that, a small minority. The majority of the UK protests this week have been peaceful.

I have been in turmoil all week deciding whether or not to protest. Under different circumstances I wouldn’t have thought twice about going. However, current circumstances have had me torn. I care a lot about protecting the NHS and vulnerable members of society, and have several vulnerable people in my family.

Since before lockdown I have been social distancing and still now only go out the house for the occasional walk or to pick up my click and collect groceries. However, I made the personal choice yesterday to go and protest because I believe that fighting racism is a bigger issue and felt compelled to act.

People aren’t going to protest because they are selfish and don’t care about others, quite the opposite. They are doing it because they are angry, upset and scared and want to do anything in their power to bring about change.

I feel that it is especially important for white people to show solidarity with the black community. I agree with the sentiment that white people saying or doing nothing is allowing the problem to exist.

I believe that the government should have done more earlier to stop the spread of the virus and that their failure to do so has cost lives. It’s not fair to blame people who are frustrated, angry, desperate to be heard and want to share their pain. I agree it’s risky but you can’t expect people not to want to stand together in the face of racism, something that, like Covid, kills every day.

And, while every decent person is outraged at George Floyd’s death, it’s far more painful and scary for those who are oppressed and have been fighting for equality and justice their whole lives.

So I just ask that, while you might not agree with people protesting right now, which I totally understand, don’t demonize them. They’re not doing it to be selfish, quite the opposite. It’s a personal decision and the right to protest is important and part of what makes us a democracy.

Joanna Raikes (30) lives in Chiswick 

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See also: Bring back the Anti Nazi League

See also: Not in the EU but still in Europe