Wellingborough Black Lives Matter protest attracts large crowds

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Residents turned out to support the Black Lives Matter movement

Wellingborough residents turned out in large numbers yesterday (Sunday, June 7) to support the Black Lives Matters (BLM) protest.

Protests have been held in America, the UK and across the world following the death of George Floyd, 46, who was killed in Minneapolis on May 25 after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

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The Wellingborough protest saw a large turnout and Mareks Klein, one of those who marched, said: "It felt so empowering to walk down the streets of Wellingborough. It felt as if we were all in unity.

The BLM protest in Wellingborough attracted a large crowd. Photo from Mareks KleinsThe BLM protest in Wellingborough attracted a large crowd. Photo from Mareks Kleins
The BLM protest in Wellingborough attracted a large crowd. Photo from Mareks Kleins

"This does not mean that people should just sit back after the protest, we still need to keep fighting for human rights. As a white male, I feel like it's my responsibility to help fight."

Another Wellingborough resident, Luke Barton, 25, went to watch from his car. He said: "Words cannot express how happy and honoured I am to live in and be part of a multicultural community as I am in this town."

Luke chose not to go in person because his fiancée is seven months pregnant and taking precautions during the coronavirus pandemic. The mortgage litigator filmed the video from his car - his phone was in a holder and he set it up to record before driving, so he did not use a phone while driving.

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Luke said: "Being a black minority in the UK, yet alone in Wellingborough, carries its pressures. In history and even today, being a black man or a black woman is dangerous. It's sad, but it's true.

Luke Barton hopes people will understand the reasons for the BLM protestsLuke Barton hopes people will understand the reasons for the BLM protests
Luke Barton hopes people will understand the reasons for the BLM protests

"This is why I feel so much passion when me and my brothers and sisters, as well as many other non-ethnic minorities, take a stance together to combat the sickening behaviour that shivers me to still see happening in today's society."

Luke said he thinks yesterday's large turnout will "speak truths" to those who do not fully understand the cause of BLM and make them listen, which he said is important because "things need to change and they need to change now."

He said: "Racism is everywhere. You cannot escape it. It's that simple. People may not say it out loud, people may not think they're being offensive. I have had non-minorities approach me before to say, 'Blacks don't crack', thinking it's a compliment.

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"Others I've had include, 'You're black, you must have got into fights before'. Other times, it's not intentional, (like) 'You're more athletic, it's in your genes'. Racism is close to home. Racism is everywhere.

"So, it needs to be shouted about. Things need to change."

Luke has a three-year-old stepson who is white and calls him 'daddy'. He said: "No one taught him to call me daddy, he chose to call me it.

"He sees through me and I trust that as he grows, he will see through the stigma attached to my skin colour.

"This is why we are marching - for people to see the world through HIS eyes."

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Lots of the criticism of the protests and marches in Wellingborough and around the UK has focused on calls for social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Luke said: "I do not care about the criticism. Yes, I understand that there is a pandemic going on. Yes, I am aware that lives are being lost. Everyone in these BLM protesters have already conducted that risk assessment.

"They all decided to take that risk. They don't need telling again that that decision is wrong."

Luke hopes that the BLM movement will raise awareness and said: "I hope people will eventually begin to realise the purpose behind this movement.

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"Many people seem to forget that racism in this world is still very real and impacts many people in many different ways.

"Racism is taught and can you not see how much of an impact it has had on us? We are marching down high streets in the middle of a pandemic! How can people not see the passion in that?

"Minorities have a voice, we are screaming and we will be heard."

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