‘I can’t breathe’ – London solidarity demonstration

December 11, 2014 — Comment

Written by Harmit Athwal

The failure to prosecute police involved in the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson has reignited protests against policing in the UK.

Die in at Westfield © IRR News

Die-in at Westfield © IRR News

Last night, campaigners held a demonstration in London in solidarity with protesters in the US following the failure to charge the officers involved in the death of Eric Garner in New York.

© IRR News

Die-in at Westfield © IRR News

The demonstration, organised by London Black Revs, London Campaign Against Police and State Violence and the NUS Black Students Campaign, mobilised a huge crowd. The mixed crowd of over 800 took over the Westfield shopping centre with a die-in. After the blast of a horn the crowd dropped to the floor and played dead – while chanting slogans. Protesters took security staff and police around the shopping mecca that is Westfield, as bemused shoppers watched. Sometimes, staff from shops secretly gave the thumbs up as they were forced to draw down shutters by management. The protest was entirely peaceful, though loud and angry. Chants included: ‘No justice, no peace’, ‘black lives matter’, ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘hands-up, don’t shoot’.

© IRR News

© IRR News

The crowd in Westfield soon left the centre to join with others assembled outside and denied entry by police. An impromptu rally was held in the middle of the road in Shepherd’s Bush. Speakers included Minkah Adofu (United Families and Friends Campaign) who spoke of international resistance to violent police tactics, while Marcia Rigg (sister of the late Sean Rigg) spoke of deaths including that of Shiji Lapite, Mark Duggan and Joy Gardner in the UK and Eric Garner in New York.

© IRR News

© IRR News

As the demonstration ended, people marched to Westfield and, taking the police by surprise, re-entered the centre. As a result, seventy-six people were kettled and arrested for potential violent disorder, placed in buses provided Abellio London & Surrey (possibly pre-booked by the Met) and sent to stations across London. Arrests were inevitable as red-faced police officers were caught off-guard by the protesters. (Read an IRR News article about policing tactics at a recent anti-fascist demonstration: Is anti-fascism being criminalised).

Related links

Read a joint statements on the seventy-six arrests here

London Black Revs

London Campaign Against Police and State Violence

NUS Black Students Campaign

United Families and Friends Campaign

IRR News: Britain’s Michael Browns and Eric Garners

 

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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