DEMONSTRATIONS in support of the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement were held across Oxfordshire over the weekend.
‘No justice, no peace’ and ‘black lives matter’ were the cries of more than 100 people who gathered at Abbey Meadows in Abingdon on Sunday.
Residents joined the display of solidarity with the black community to speak out against police brutality and racial discrimination.
With the demonstration they urged local authorities and the Government to include racial justice in their agendas.
One activist Edna May said: “As a member of the BAME community, I really struggled with racism when I arrived in this country.
“As a child, I could not fully comprehend why adults treated me differently to my peers.
“The importance of micro-racism that lies in between the lines of banter contributes to a systematic problem, and gives permission to certain radical people to hurt and harm valued members of the community, who exist here in Abingdon.”
Activists behind the event denied rumours they were planning to target the statue of Victoria in the park on Sunday.
They said that was ‘not their intention’ and that ‘everyone who showed up maintained an incredible display of peace throughout the rousing speeches’.
An official statement from BLM Abingdon said: “The movement showed the great love within Abingdon despite all the negativity online that spurred the movement into existence.
“There was a clear support and show of allyship from officials in the area with the mayor appearing for a speech, as well as a representative on behalf of Layla Moran MP.
“This was on top of the incredibly powerful, moving, and educational speeches, chants, and songs from our speakers who are people of colour.”
Activists also confirmed that social distancing had been observed and the event was peaceful and trouble-free.
The afternoon demonstration also received support from other groups within the town such as the Abingdon Queer Action.
Members said: “We feel great knowing that we helped prove Abingdon’s love and rage for the BAME community here, and worldwide.
“We believe that justice for one requires justice for all, and the love and community we felt working with Abingdon BLM was amazing.”
Another BLM demonstration took place in Witney on Saturday.
The protests were organised only days after an anti-racism demonstration in Oxford against the statue of the 19th century colonialist Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College.
Last week four Cherwell district councillors – Katherine Tyson, Conrad Copeland, Ian Middleton and Nick Cotter – called on Oriel College, Oxford, to take down the monument of the ‘white-supremacist and slave merchant’.