Monday, August 08, 2016

Black Lives Matter Activists Stage Protests Across Britain

The following excerpts are taken from the NY Times article "Black Lives Matter Activists Stage Protests Across Britain" (Aug. 5, 2016)

>> LONDON — Black activists, responding to calls for a nationwide protest against racial injustice, staged demonstrations in London and several other cities across Britain on Friday, in their boldest show of support to date for the emerging Black Lives Matter movement here.

Black Lives Matter U.K. had called for a nationwide “shutdown” to protest an array of injustices, including police brutality; racial disparities in arrests, convictions and sentencing; the treatment of immigrants in detention; inadequate mental health services; and a reported increase in hate crimes since Britain’s decision, in a June 23 referendum, to leave the European Union.

[...] The Black Lives Matter movement, which emerged in the United States in 2013, has spread to several countries, including Britain, Canada and France.

On Friday morning, activists unfurled a giant banner and lay down on an access road near Heathrow, bringing traffic to a standstill for several hours. The police arrested 10 people.

Five more people were arrested in Birmingham, Britain’s second-most populous city, after blocking traffic leading to the airport. Four activists were arrested in Nottingham, a city of more than 300,000 in the Midlands, after protesters blocked trams and buses by lying down in front of the Theatre Royal.

The demonstrations were peaceful but powerful; in several cases, the authorities had to use special equipment to cut through the tubes the protesters had used to link their arms.

The demonstrations were timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary, on Thursday, of the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old unarmed black man, in the Tottenham section of London. His death touched off riots in poorer sections of the capital, as well as in cities including Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.

“In the U.K., we have exactly the same problems as in America, but in America they’re far worse,” Kehinde Andrews, an associate professor of sociology and head of the black studies program at Birmingham City University, said in a phone interview...

[...] So far this year, the police in Britain have shot and killed two people, compared with 571 in the United States.

Britain has the largest prison population in Western Europe, and blacks are overrepresented. But even so, the incarceration rate is far lower than in the United States. Gun violence is also relatively rare in Britain; handguns were effectively prohibited after a 1996 massacre at a school in Scotland. Most police officers in the country do not carry guns.

[...] Because deadly encounters with the police are fairly rare, activists in Britain have tended to focus more on the treatment of black people in custody, like Sean Rigg, a 40-year-old musician who had schizophrenia and who died in a police station in Brixton in 2008; and Kingsley Burrell, a 29-year-old student who died in police custody in Birmingham in 2011.

[...] Blacks account for about 3 percent of Britain’s population, compared with nearly 13 percent in the United States.

While people of African origin have lived in Britain for centuries, large-scale black migration began with people from the Caribbean after World War II, followed by an influx from former British colonies in Africa, especially Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. <<


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