This is a first-hand account of the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests which took place in London on the 6th of June, where crowds gathered to demonstrate against police brutality and racism. A march also took place starting from Parliament Square where people continued to chant and support the movement, with higher than expected turnout despite the weather.
The protest was kept peaceful until the police started pushing us unexpectedly, and on the right coming down from Trafalgar Square police horses and vans started to charge at us. Panicked, people started running away from where we were originally stood, leaving their bikes, throwing objects like plastic bottles in self-defence to get away quicker and escape injuries. This is just one example of how police turned a peaceful protest into a violent one, provoking the people and inciting them to retaliate when fighting against police brutality itself. It was the protestors themselves who restored the peace, chanting "keep it peaceful", walking back up the street and singing songs about love and unity such as Bob Marley's 'One Love' and the Black Eyed Peas' 'Where Is the Love?', rising above the police's and government's attempts to suppress the movement.
Unfortunately, mainstream media sources reported different stories, saying a bike was thrown at a horse and focusing excessively on this isolated incident which presents the actions of the police in a positive light. Because they have so much influence, this point of view is perpetuated and widely believed, and in a world with so much information it is easy for people to choose ignorance and to believe everything they hear uncritically. This is exactly what mainstream media want to do to drive support away from the movement and for people to lose faith in the people supporting them and upholding systematic racism in a repeated cycle. The media focuses their reports on a few incidents of the individuals protesting rather than the planned collective wrongdoings of the police and government as a whole- they must have known using horses as a weapon would put them at risk of potential harm, and it would frighten and panic a peaceful protest causing people to act irrationally. Excessively unlawful behaviour, such as the vandalism of war heroes statues and throwing of objects, is of course wrong and I do not condone that behaviour as part of a peaceful protest, but media reports will only focus on, and amplify, those few incidents to represent the movement as a whole. They go so far as to label black people as ‘thugs’, exaggerating the types of objects being thrown such as ‘bricks’, which didn’t happen, yet these reports remain the main source of getting information and so are widely believed.
Please don’t believe everything you are told, be careful as to where the sources of information comes from, and double check things before sharing with others. It is an outrage that in this year we are still having to fight for equal rights for black people, especially having to do it during a pandemic putting lives even more at risk.