‘Our demands don’t wait for a pandemic’: Black Lives Matter protestors march through city centre

March organiser Tyrek Morris, right, gave a speech to a socially distanced crowd at Piccadilly Gardens.

Chants of “no justice, no peace, take to the streets and f*** the police” could be heard yesterday as protestors marched through Manchester in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Around 100 protestors walked from St Peter’s Square to Piccadilly Gardens via Deansgate and the Arndale at 2.30pm yesterday, causing temporary traffic jams in the city centre.

The march took place while talks are being held between Boris Johnson and Andy Burnham, under speculation over Greater Manchester being forced into a Tier 3 lockdown.

Becca Withers, front and centre, was one of more than 100 people who participated in the march from St Peter’s Square to Piccadilly Gardens via Deansgate.

“Our demands do not wait for a pandemic,” said Becca Withers, one of the organisers of the march.

21-year-old Tyrek Morris, a journalism student at Manchester Metropolitan University, is one of the founding members of All Black Lives UK, a youth led organisation protesting and working towards change across the globe.

Speaking to The Manc before leading yesterday’s march, he said: “So far, we’ve had all these protests, and nothing is really changing.

“Positive change is coming, but there’s a long way to go.”

Formed in June 2020, All Black Lives UK are campaigning on five main demands, including to commit to ending discrimination, specifically in relation to stop and search figures.

In the year ending March 2019, black people in Manchester were nearly three times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts, relative to population size.

And during the same time period, black people were eight times more likely to be stopped and searched within Greater Manchester, according to government statistics.

Protestors also want a commitment from local and national government to end racial health disparities, and from schools and universities to work towards ending racially targeted bullying and teach about British history in relation to the empire.

Leaflets which were handed out to passers by said that in 2018/19, black people in Manchester were 3.5 times more likely to face force tactics by Greater Manchester Police.

Signs held by protestors included messages like “Decolonise the curriculum”, “Destroy systemic racism” and “Pull down the racist statues.”

On arrival in Piccadilly gardens, protestors gathered in the centre while different speakers took it in turn to say their bit in support of the cause.

Mr Morris added: “We can’t wait for our lives to matter. Racism is a pandemic in itself and the fact we are still willing to march during these times shows much people care about the movement.”

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