#blacklivesmatter: protest voices from London

June 15, 2020

Black Lives Matter demonstration, London. Photography by Kishen Patel.

Kishen Patel recounts his memorable experience at the demonstration, marching from Hyde Park to Parliament Square

On June 3, 2020, some friends and I went to the Hyde Park demonstration in support of #BlackLivesMatter. This protest was one of several global campaigns started in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.

Floyd was murdered by white cop, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on his neck for eight minutes, in Minneapolis, USA, on May 25, 2020. This has since spurred worldwide protests against racism, police brutality, and justice for black people who have been unlawfully killed with no repercussions for the perpetrators; typically white people.

There has been an array of petitions shared on social media, encouraging people to sign and educate themselves on the injustices black people have faced for a very long time. Some petitions to support #BlackLivesMatter in the UK can be found here.

With masks, gloves, and our backpacks full of water, snacks, and portable chargers, we took the Piccadilly line from north London to Knightsbridge in the early afternoon. We battled through the tube tunnels carrying our signs, inscribed with “Silence is Violence” and “No Justice, No Peace”.

With Floyd’s final haunting words, “I can’t breathe” echoing through my mind, I stepped determinedly into the fresh air of Hyde Park and followed the crowd to its centre.

Immediately, we were surrounded by hordes of protestors wearing an item of red clothing to show solidarity. It didn’t take long for the chanting to build; from “Justice for George Floyd! Justice for Belly Mujinga!” to more tongue-in-cheek, expletive-ridden ones about the Prime Minister and the President of the USA. I’m sure you can imagine what was said!

If you are in neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor, my favourite sign

As we chanted and waved our signs in the air, there were photographers and cameramen weaving through the crowd, to capture images and film this powerful protest. I managed to take some photos of my favourite signs to document the day.

Of course, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and everyone had the sense to wear a mask, gloves, and maintain social distancing. There were a few people handing out free masks, as well as spraying hand gel. It was uplifting to see people from all races and backgrounds come together to protest for a common cause, creating a great sense of community and connection.

There were also a few celebrities that attended the march. John Boyega, Star Wars actor, headed the event with an emotional speech in the middle of Hyde Park. We weren’t very close but we could sense that he touched the crowd.

Popstar Dua Lipa and ex-One Direction member Liam Payne were also there, and with their star status shining, morale was certainly boosted, even in the dismal London weather!

As Hyde Park got more and more crowded, protestors started spilling out onto the streets. It got so busy that people started jumping the fences. My friends helped me over the fence first and we finally reached the road.

Buses stopped and beeped their horns to show their support

Buses and cars had been stopped to make way for the protestors. As we moved in and out of the traffic, the drivers beeped their horns and clapped in unity. It was a great feeling. Soon enough we had made it onto Park Lane, with hundreds of people marching in front and behind us.

From here we went towards Grosvenor Gardens, past Victoria Station and eventually ended up in Parliament Square. The atmosphere was thriving and we felt exhilarated to be part of this powerful campaign.

We continued to make our way to the London Eye; it was a stunning sight up close. There was a full-on wind down by the Thames and it was at this point, after four hours of marching, with our legs aching and our backs sore that we sorted a Tesco’s meal deal to refuel and head home.

The protest remained peaceful throughout. We saw a few police officers on our way, but there were no displays of aggression in our time at the event. It’s disappointing to see the media only focus on the rioting and looting in other countries. There are only a tiny proportion of protestors who engage in criminal activity.

It’s vital that the main message of these protests doesn’t get lost with the negative representations in the media, and I’m glad that the London protest provided this.

Overall, it was a fulfilling and memorable experience; one that I will add as a highlight to the unprecedented events of 2020, so far.

Kishen is a student at East Barnet School. While he’s not binge-watching several Netflix shows at the same time, especially crime dramas, he can be found listening to music. He is also an avid photographer, and artist.

Kishen is an undergraduate student at the University of Bath. Aside from studying Computer Science, he can be found thrift-shopping, reading, and writing. His guilty pleasure is Netflix crime thrillers.

Other work

Donate via PayPal

Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice.

Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.