Guildford hosted a Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday 6th June, in connection with protests in the US and across the UK. The protests were triggered in response to the murder of George Floyd by the US Police as well the systemic racism the black community faces in the UK and abroad.
Protesters listen to speaker in Stoke Park. Credit: Joel Russell
Roughly 800 people turned out for the march, based off a protester’s estimate. The march started at the bottom of the High Street and moving onwards past G-Live and London Road before finishing in Stoke Park with a collective lie down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This symbolic action was in reference to the length of time that former Police Officer Derek Chauvin held George Floyd to the ground with a knee on his neck, murdering him.
Protesters lie down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd. Credit: Joel Russell
Throughout the march, chants of “Black Lives Matter”, “George Floyd” and “No justice, no peace” were commonly heard alongside others. In Stoke Park, many protesters also knelt on the ground as a sign of solidarity with oppressed black people globally.
Protesters kneel in solidarity with the black community. Credit: Joel Russell
Speeches were then held by Guildford members of the black community detailing the racist incidents that they have had to experience: from false accusations of crimes to racist language used. One speaker noted that despite there being hundreds in attendance, Guildford has a population of 150,000 and stated there should be many more of them protesting. The speaker called for everyone to spread the message of Black Lives Matter far and wide:
“There are 150,000 people in Guildford, this doesn’t look like 150,000 people here”
After the speeches finished, the protesters marched the original route in reverse before concluding next the Friary. Shop workers came out to show their support for the protesters by putting their thumbs up whilst drivers beeped their car horns in the same spirit.
Protesters hold signs about racism in the UK. Credit: Joel Russell
We occasionally experience small protests on campus, but it is not so common to see one of this scale in the town centre. There are tangible levels of anger at the way racism is still commonplace against black people and this protest was a small taste of that.
Another protest is being held on the 10th of June and Woking held their own protest on the 7th of June. Guildford and Surrey are taking a stand and its something that we should take notice of.
All photographs were taken by Joel Russell and kindly offered for use to The Stag. You can see more of Joel's work here.