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The voices of Black Lives Matter

For many black people in Britain, the murder of George Floyd is seen as something that could have happened to them or to their own father, son, uncle or brother.

The 46-year-old’s death during an arrest ten days ago in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparked protests around the world. It sparked a huge discussion about racism and the way black people are often treated by police.

The words of George Floyd gasping “I can’t breathe” as a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes were chanted through the streets of central London on Wednesday.

The deaths of black Britons in police custody are not a new development in Britain, but the country’s response to Mr Floyd’s death has reignited long-standing tensions, particularly around contact with police.

According to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, 13 black people have died in police custody in England and Wales since 2010.

Alexandru Sones-Dawkins, 21, south London

“I am protesting in support of the lives of all black and minority people who seemingly have not mattered. We have suffered for too long. “I am here, cut and stained, making a statement with my outfit to represent all those who have fallen at the hands of the police in Britain and America,” says Alexandru Sones-Dawkins.

The 21-year-old from south London describes Mr Floyd’s tragic death as “horrific” and calls on young people of all races to take a stand.

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He says the events in the US have attracted national attention in Britain because they are indicative of the racial inequality that many black people face every day.

There are many differences when it comes to how people of color are treated in British society, he says.

The influence of the Black Lives Matter movement gives a voice to ethnic minorities.

“We need changes now. We can not wait anymore. People are willing to do whatever it takes.”

Syrus Gridnon, 26, north-west London

In the UK, black people are disproportionately targeted by police stops and search warrants, and for 26-year-old Syrus Gridnon, this is something he has had to live with throughout his youth.

“I grew up in a white community, so personally I didn’t really notice racism as a young child, but as I grew up I noticed certain things happening to me.”

“I have friends and family who have been mistreated by the system. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been stopped by the police.”

Gridnon feels that little has changed since his parents’ generation.

“This goes much deeper than the black community against the police. It goes much deeper. This is about generations of people being mistreated and not receiving justice. I think racism is palpable in the UK, but it’s obvious in the US.” “

Queen Allen, mother of one, west London

“The murder of George Floyd is nothing we have never seen before. “I’m just worried about how many more people are going to die before things change,” says Queen Allen.

The west London mother-of-one insists there is no shortage of stories of police using excessive force against black people, who are often unarmed. Black mothers like her often worry about their teenage children.

“I’m a mother and things like this worry me. It just happens all the time. Every few years another black man dies at the hands of white police.”

“When George Floyd died in America, all of us here realized we had the same problems.”

The anger spreading across Britain is a sign that we have reached the breaking point, according to Allen.

“We have enough. There is a list of black men and women who have died in custody in this country, and while it may not happen as often as it does in America, it happens here.”

Taryn Harris, 22, Luton

Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death by a gang of white youths in 1993. Six years later, Sir William Macpherson’s public inquiry into his murder described the police investigation as “institutionally racist”.

Not much has changed for Taryn Harris in the last 21 years.

“We still have to work twice as hard just because of the color of our skin. George Floyd is the tip of the iceberg that really activated everyone. Here there was the London riots in 2011, but the video of George being killed has now sparked something that everyone is coming out and protesting for their rights.”

Reggie Mlongoti, 27

“Enough is enough. All we ask is that we don’t kill each other. We don’t ask for much,” says Reggie Mlongoti,

“I always had the problem of suppressing or limiting my blackness. It’s like my blackness scares people. I know it’s in my head, but I’m shown so many examples.”

Emily Muttitt and Christy Duvenhage, 21, Milton Keynes

For Christy Duvenhage, white privilege played a crucial role in this incident, but it is too often obscured, she says.

“I am fully aware of my white privilege. It consists of feeling protected instead of being afraid of the police.”

“I am from Zimbabwe and although I am not black and will not endure racist comments, I feel guilty for not being vocal about doing anything to help people who have been oppressed for so long. Because we’re not racist, that’s what defines me.” “It’s emotional that there’s almost nothing more we can do,” she added.

But we’ve been here before for Emily Muttitt. What’s different this time is that it’s an interracial movement.

“My mother and uncle were the only mixed-race kids in their school, and people were crossing the street because they didn’t want to walk on the same side as them.

“With what happened, you just feel this connection that you have to stand up and fight. This has already taken too long. We are all in this fight together,” she said.

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