Hundreds gather in Lancaster in show of unity against racism and to pay tribute to George Floyd

Lancaster and Morecambe Stand Up to Racism organised the event in the city's Dalton Square on Wednesday June 3.

Thursday, 4th June 2020, 1:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th June 2020, 4:23 pm

Around 400 people attended the protest and vigil despite the coronavirus pandemic to show solidarity in the wake of the killing of father-of-two George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.Speakers at the protest said that racism isn't just a problem in the US, and can be found right here in Lancaster too.

A minute's silence was observed at 6pm, and attendees "took the knee" in a show of strength and unity.

The gesture has become a symbol of both defiance and respect as protests continue in many US cities, as well as here in the UK.

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People of all ages attended the protest.

Geraldine Onek, 34, moved to Lancaster with her parents in the 1980s to escape the Sudanese Civil War.

She was two-years-old when she arrived in Lancaster, and said she had experienced racism throughout her life and that the killing of George Floyd was just "the tip of the iceberg".

"Racism isn't just in America, it's right here in Lancaster too," she said.

"No-one is born a racist or a bigot, but many have come to see it as acceptable.

Hundreds of people attended the vigil and protest in Dalton Square.

"Things have progressed here in Lancaster, but if you're saying 'All Lives Matter' about this, then you're not ready to listen.

"The conversations need to continue to be had."

A full interview with Geraldine will be available on the Lancaster Guardian website and in print soon.

Photographer Tom Morbey, who captured the event in these striking pictures, said: "It was wonderful to see such a shared intolerance of injustice amongst the people of Lancaster.

Taking the knee has become a symbol of both defiance and respect.

"Those who gathered made such a powerful statement supporting Black Lives Matter that I'm excited to see the change and development these shows of solidarity will bring."

Joshua Brandwood, from Morecambe, who attended the event with his wife and young son, said: "The murder of George Floyd was an utter tragedy and simply should not have happened.

"The footage of an officer kneeling on Mr Floyd's neck while his colleagues stand and watch as he desperately cries out pleading for his life is harrowing.

"It is hardly surprising to see the sheer raw anger and pain rapidly spreading across the world.

Lancaster residents spoke passionately about racism both in the US and here in the UK.

"You have to ask yourself - if it was a white man, would he have used the same brutal force? Why did the other officers turn a blind eye and not speak up in this case?

"There are many high profile instances where police in the United States and beyond racially profile people from BAME backgrounds.

"Black people in England and Wales are 40 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched. Research published just a few days ago also found that Black Americans are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by the police.

"I refuse to sit back and watch my biracial two year old son to grow up in a society where he is more likely to be targetted because of the colour of his skin.

"I want my son to know that his dad stood up and at least tried to make change.

"History cannot and should not repeat itself. We need stand in solidarity with the BAME community by using appropriate legal means until our leaders listen."

Josh Brandwood with his wife and young son in Dalton Square.
The Queen Victoria Statue in Dalton Square.
Hundreds of people in Lancaster turned up to show support for Black Lives Matter in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.