Sunday, 14 June 2020

Black Lives Matter, Richmond

I went down to Richmond marketplace today at noon with the aim of just neutrally photographing the planned Black Lives Matter protest at 1pm.

As many local people will be aware, the planned small protest by a group of local young people - to include an eight minute kneel and some recitation of poetry - was met with fury and vitriol on social media, with some extremely aggressive and unpleasant posts by people opposed to the protest, many supposedly on grounds of "social distancing".

Despite the standard keyboard warriors on Facebook though, I wasn't expecting to walk into the marketplace at noon and see the same neo National Front supporters that I had seen in videos the day before in London, performing Nazi salutes in front of the Cenotaph, and literally pissing on the memorial to a fallen police officer...

Sometimes you have to pick a side.

Initially the marketplace was only filled with the National Front thugs and a few police officers, but as it got closer to 1pm, other people started to trickle in, and as it came up on the start time, the Black Lives Matter protesters outnumbered the National Front by about three to one, with hundreds of people surrounding the marketplace on two sides. Some faith in my local area was restored at this display of solidarity and human decency, in the face of an extremely hostile and unpleasant group stood on the obelisk, jeering away, fags and beers in hand.

Speakers gave speeches, with the thugs behind jeering and shouting "scum" and personal insults directed at the speakers. At one point they tried to start some sing songs of "Rule Britannia" etc to drown out the speakers, but each time they only managed the best known verses. I guess they didn't know their patriotic songs all that well.

But I could see the six year old son of one of the speakers trying to hold himself together in the face of the crowd of red faced degenerates shouting abuse at his mother, until he finally had a little cry and had to be led away. He did very well.

Afterwards, the crowd knelt for eight minutes, while a man in a Parachute Regiment beret shouted abuse across the marketplace. On the obelisk they unfurled a Green Howards banner. To see so many ex-forces with their berets on (mostly Parachute Regiment and Green Howards), acting in such a repulsive and shameless way was very sad.

The BLM crowd did not respond to any of the provocation and kept their dignity throughout. Whether you agree with every message that BLM offers or not, no decent human being should oppose the move to a more equal society. What I saw today from the neo National Front (because that is what they really are) was a group of people who didn't feel the need to hide their bigotry. It has, for whatever reason, become acceptable again to hate people based on such an arbitrary characteristic as the colour of their skin.

So you have to take a side, really. And I know I will never be on the side of racist thugs.

I'm also a business. All I have to say about that right now is: if you disagree with me and want to voice that in some way, may I direct your attention to the "Unlike" button above. You will not be missed, and I am happy to stand up and be counted.

Edit: Updated 15/06/20 to blur some faces out, after one of the ex-Paras pictured on the obelisk made it publicly very clear on the Facebook post of this that he and his two friends did not agree with the behaviour of others on the obelisk. My thanks to him for doing so.