Black Lives Matter protest on Parker’s Piece can lead to new platform in Cambridge, say organisers
Organisers of the Black Lives Matter protest on Parker’s Piece last Saturday say the show of solidarity and support has given them a “new lease of strength”.
More than 1,000 people attended the protest in Cambridge which came after the death of George Floyd in the United States.
Mr Floyd died after being arrested and restrained by police in Minneapolis, with a video showing white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while he was pinned to the ground.
Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other arresting officers are charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Chauvin’s bail was set at $1.25m (£1m) at his first court appearance on Monday.
The death of Mr Floyd has prompted protests around the world, including in Cambridge last week, the biggest of which was on Parker’s Piece and organised by Cambridge for Black Lives and Afrocam Events, a musical and cultural event group.
Those in attendance adhered to social distance guidelines, and the protest was deemed to have been 10 times better than planned in terms of numbers, and following the rules.
“The main focus [was] initially to show solidarity with a now global movement and just to simply be heard in our city - to share our pain in the hope that it would shine a light on an issue that is sometimes swept under the rug,” said a spokesperson for Afrocam.
“But as we progressed with planning we began to think ‘what if we never get this chance again?’ so we wanted to go the extra mile and if 100 people turned up maybe they would support us in our demands so we added prompts for change to the structure of our society beginning with Cambridge.”
They have since been contacted as an organisation and individuals by various people with political and financial power with interest in helping to push demands for further change.
The message on the day was felt by those who attended to have been very powerful, based on real-life experiences rather than just statistics.
“On the initial front of solidarity, judging by the turnout, and the continued messages and even posts in forms of pictures with uplifting captions to poetic pieces in a tone of newfound education, we would say yes we did what we wanted to though it is not ‘world peace’ we can see silence on the matter continues to decrease and a few are speaking up and that's enough”, said the Afrocam spokesperson.
The next question is, what happens next?
There were no plans for a next protest, per se, as despite the support for the event on social media, it was not expected to see that big a turnout in light of the pandemic and also the bad weather on Saturday.
But the group said: “However, we’ve found a new lease of strength to continue and we are going to begin putting our money where our mouth is by creating and publishing to our site and social media a directory of all the black businesses in Cambridge - equality isn’t just social.
“We’re also sharing petitions and encourage students of institutions to use their voices.”