THE Black Lives Matter protest movement came to Redditch today, Friday, June 5 – and with good reason, said campaigners.
Up to 50 people gathered on Market Place by Church Green to express their feelings in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a US officer in the American city of Minneapolis.
The crowd was peaceful, but angry that someone had to die for a light to be shone on their plight.
“Of course there’s racism in Redditch today,” said one man calling himself PG.
“You see it everywhere – unfair treatment in employment, in education, in every aspect of our lives.
“It’s the same as is happening in America, the only difference is there is no knee on your neck here.
“But George Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and it’s the same for black people right here in Redditch, because we can’t breathe either.
“And when I say black people I mean us all, Black, Asian, mixed ethnicity, everyone.”
With police watching from a discreet distance, protesters, who throughout maintained social distancing, chanted the name of George Floyd and called for justice – now.
Viviene Padfield – born and brought up in Redditch – added: “There is racism everywhere when we just want to be treated equally.
“I’m British but sometimes I don’t feel British, that I’m part of Britain.
“You just need to look at The Windrush saga.
“My parents came here to work and do the jobs English people did not want to do.
“We’ve paid our taxes but we do not feel part of Britain.
“We have let it go, been apathetic over it, but our children will not, they won’t put up with it.”
Former professional footballer Jeff Richards took aim at ‘the beautiful game’.
“There’s lots of racism from the terraces. I’m 60 now but things have not got any better, in fact their worse, and the stewards know it’s going on but they don’t call it out.”
His partner Janette added that the couple, who are volunteer carers, had even been turned away from the door of some of the houses of people they had come to look after.
“The older generation are worse, but it’s passed down to the younger ones,” she said.
Another protester, Brenda Morrison-Webb, said: “I feel the fact that in the 21st Century we are still having to protest over this is unbelievable.
“It seems nothing has changed and I’m talking from a position of white privilege.
“Redditch is a very kind town, it’s got a big heart, despite some of the comments on social media, and on this issue we can all stand together and support each other.”
US police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second degree murder following the death of Mr Floyd, who was aged 46.
Video footage showed Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck as he pleaded he couldn’t breath.
Three other officers at the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting his murder.
The death of Mr Floyd has sparked a wave of protests across the United States, and these have crossed over to the UK.
Protests have been held in London, Birmingham and all over the country, including now Redditch.