Flood the Embassy - Justice for Michael Brown Darren Wilson is GUILTY
Report by Donna Guthrie, BARAC Women’s Officer
More than 2,000 people protested in solidarity with the community of Ferguson outside the U.S. embassy in London demanding justice for Michael Brown on Wednesday night blockading the US Embassy and taking to the streets of central London bringing traffic to a standstill. Holding 'jail racist cops' and ‘Black lives matter’ placards, people mobilised in the thousands, following the decision not to prosecute US police officer Darren Wilson who shot dead unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Calling for justice and an end to the racism that allows police in the US and UK to shoot black people. The protest entitled ‘Flood the Embassy - Justice for Michael Brown Darren Wilson is GUILTY’, organised by London Black Revs, the NUS Black Students’ Campaign, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, and Defend the Right to Protest was young, loud and militant and called on people to take to the streets to demand that killer cops were taken off our streets. The organisers stressed their solidarity with demonstrators in Ferguson, saying: ‘In the same year that Mark Duggan’s murder was deemed lawful, and where the USA’s ongoing war on black people has been defined by a string of killings of black men by police, it is as important as ever to affirm solidarity between our people across borders.’
Those that spoke called for everyone to stand alongside the family of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, at a time when justice continues to be denied to the Black community. People of all ages and races stood and held placards and candles to condemn the shooting of Michael Brown in solidarity with protests taking place across the globe.
NUS Black Students Officer, Malia Bouattia, offered solidarity with Ferguson from the NUS Black Students campaign and said that ‘your (Ferguson) resistance is an example to us all!’ She declared that the ‘police cannot and will not work on behalf of black people’ ‘their role is to terrorise, divide and humiliate us. There is no appealing to a moral conscience that does not exist!’ She said ‘Our community cannot afford to lose anymore loved ones, we must take to the streets and in the words of Stokely Carmichael we need to ‘Organise Organise, Organise!’
Addressing the protest,co-Chair of BARAC UK, Zita Holbourne said how sad it was to ‘come together after another black man has been killed at the hands of the state, and of the police. ‘ She spoke of the family and friends of Michael Brown who will now have to dedicate years maybe decades fighting for justice and becoming activist, something they didn’t plan to do, because their son, an innocent 18 year old had been murdered by the police. ‘As a mother of a young black man it pains me that we have to warn them, not of the dangers of crime that may affect them, but of the dangers of the police criminal state that may harm them or even murder them’. Zita continued. ‘We now that when power, prejudice and privilege come together that equals institutional racism. The judicial system is a corrupt system that fails those that are the most poorest. Cuts to legal aid in the UK means that those that face the most injustice are least likely to be able to access justice. ‘ Zita also announced that BARAC had initiated a grass roots campaign with other UK black organisations called Elbow out Ebola and invited people to join the campaign and attend the conference on 5 December in London. She finished by praising the grassroots Black organisations and campaigns like London Black Revs and NUS Black students campaign that had initiated the protest in solidarity with the communities in Ferguson. BARAC is proud to support Black young people taking the lead as community activists standing up for our community and against racism. Contrary to how the politicians and police demonise our black young people as criminals and worthless it was great to see such raw talented and organised young activists leading the way for equality, Justice, freedom and humanity.
As the crowds continued to swell were then addressed by Carole Duggan, the aunt of Mark Duggan shot dead by police in Tottenham in 2011 on behalf of Justice for Mark Duggan Campaign Carole ‘We want to send out condolences to Mike Brown’s family. We feel the pain and know the pain of losing somebody at the hands of the police,’ she told the crowd. ‘We know what it feels like to know that a member of your family has been murdered in cold blood. That is why we stand in solidarity with the community in Ferguson, who are very, very brave people.’ Mark’s death mirrored that of Mike Brown in that both were innocent, posing no threat and unarmed, both raising their hands in surrender, both shot dead and then subjected to character assassination. Mark was murdered by the police and yet the inquest found that he was lawfully killed and also that he was unarmed. Carol talked of the smear campaigns against them and their families. ‘They won’t even admit they are killing people. They are just ‘removing the threat’ ‘In America the police are vicious, even shooting people in the back’ and she went on: 'They've come to a point in Ferguson where there is no turning back. 'They have to carry on fighting. They have to see this through. And we have to stand behind them because you know what happens there will eventually happen here.’
Marcia Rigg, sister of Sean Rigg, who died after being arrested and restrained by police in 2008 in Brixton Police station, spoke for the Sean Rigg Truth and Justice Campaign. Marcia said: 'Burning and looting - we don't condone these acts - but I for one and I'm sure people around the world understand the frustration and anger that the people are feeling when our loved ones are murdered on the streets. 'What else are we supposed to do?' ‘People across the world understand the frustration and anger that people in Ferguson are feeling when their loved ones are murdered,’ she said. ‘What are they supposed to do? We try to go peacefully, just ask for the truth, but all we keep getting is lies.’ ‘Another mother’s womb has been wrenched with pain by a police officer that he would do it again! The family is not alone we stand in unity with the people in Ferguson, and we must stand in unity to pressure the governments of the US and UK to stop police officers killing our people. We have to speak for the voiceless. We have to fight back and keep fighting till we get justice.’
Other speakers included DTRTP spokesperson Wail Qasim, who asked ‘What is a Black life, truth is nothing at all black people are dehumanised with the snatching away of their lives.’ ‘Well Ferguson is a movement that says no to this.’ DTRTP chair, Hannah Dee thanked the organisers and reminded that people that ‘Black lives matter, this is a struggle that has no borders and called this the start of a new movement. She called on the national guard in Ferguson to put down their rubber bullets and their tear gas if they want peace!’ and that they should note ‘ there’s a murderer on the loose in America and his name is Darren Wilson’ . Referring to the Ferguson statement that reads ‘This is not a moment it is a movement and the movement lives’
The protest heard from a RMT Union Paddington No1 Branch Secretary and the Chair of London Campaign Against State & Police Violence Chair before receiving solidarity greetings from Cerie Bullivant - (Cage Prisoners) who himself was the victim of the War on Terror in the UK, who warned that the ‘War on terror is a war on the poor and a war on Islam and spoke of the British citizen are kidnapped and taken abroad and tortured with state compliancy.'
London Black Revs finished the speeches with outlining how they are organising a new militant movement to defend communities from racism, repression and cuts and attacks of our services and urging people to join them to oppose the ‘worrying rise in support for UKIP and the shift that is taking place in Britain that is seeing the growing acceptance of racist arguments like the removal of immigrants’. ‘The threat is not just from the BNP and EDL, for attacks on immigration are also about sending back black people who are born here to ‘where they think we are from and we have to send a clear message that we are here to stay which is why they set up London Black Revs to help build inside our communities before the next Tottenham or Ferguson.’ They called for people to organise to survive for when the state comes it comes with trucks, tear gas and violence like in Ferguson. They also reminded those there that the cuts that are taking place are an attack on the black community, the poor, women, the disabled and those with mental health conditions and the need to defend our community and all oppressed in society.
A minute's silence was observed to remember people killed by the police around the world, which was followed by a loud chant of 'killer police off our streets'. Following the vigil at the US embassy, thousands of protesters marched through central London along Oxford Street, Leicester Square, and Downing Street, and on to the Houses of Parliament blocking traffic and protesters held raised their hands are they filed the streets. And other protesters could be heard chanting ‘Being black is not a crime’ and ‘Hands up, Don’t Shoot’ as they marched through central London. Chants of ‘How many cops in the BNP?’ ‘No Justice No Peace, Get these killer cops off our streets!’ ‘How many cops in the KKK’ were accompanies by calls over the megaphones of enough is enough, End to police killings now.
BARAC welcomes the militant activism of London Black Rev's and NUS Black students, who organised this serious mobilisation in solidarity with Ferguson. These organisations are at the forefront of the campaign that is organising and challenging the cuts that are impacting on local communities and workplaces and disproportionately on the black community. Last year, following the verdict of inquest into the killing of Mark Duggan, BARAC called on community organisations to actively boycott the police. BARAC welcomes the call from protest organisers to unite and affirm that we will not engage willingly with the police. BARAC is committed to working to build grassroots movements to organise against police racism and state brutality. We will be joining LBR and Co-organisers at the NUS Black Students Campaign Winter Conference this weekend in London to discuss practical actions and united action to build in local communities. We urge BARAC supporters to join us there. Details: NUS Black Students Campaign Winter Conference, 29-30 Nov, Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL