Hundreds of protesters gathered in west London on Sunday to demonstrate against racial injustice and systemic racism in the UK.The protest – London’s first “Million People March” – took place on what would have been the first day of Notting Hill Carnival, the two-day celebration of Caribbean culture started in the wake of race riots that saw the local Black community fight back against mobs of white youths armed with iron bars and knives.
Organisers said Sunday’s march was a response to the police killing of George Floyd, and that they hoped to continue the conversation ignited by the Black Lives Matter protests in the aftermath of his death.“The death of George Floyd has reawakened a deep anger towards the current unjust treatment of people, particularly Black people, in custody, on arrest, as well as during interactions with police in the UK,” the group said in a statement.
Metropolitan Police initially told Million People March organiser Ken Hinds that he could be investigated for breaking COVID-19 laws around public gatherings. After Hinds issued a legal challenge accusing the force of racial discrimination, Met Police accepted that the march was exempt from such regulations as a political protest and dropped the threat of investigation.On the day of the protest, around 400 people marched from Notting Hill station along Bayswater Road, carrying signs reading “No Justice No Peace” and “I Am Not a Threat”. Along the way, they stopped to occupy parts of the road and sang “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley on arriving at Hyde Park.Million People March said on its website that the protest was organised in the original anti-racist spirit of Carnival, to “celebrate emancipation from slavery” and “express what freedom means to us as a minority”.The organisers added: “We call on all marginalised groups in the UK to come out and support us. We cannot make these changes alone! We need to come together, united against a system that is failing us whether by design or default.”
VICE photographer Aiyush Pachnanda was there to document the protest.