During the summer of 2020, I decided to commit to a photo project documenting the Black Lives Matter demonstrations around London. The tragic death of George Floyd in Minnesota on the 25th May triggered the first demonstration in London on the 31st May 2020. I wanted to use this opportunity to hopefully capture a positive change in our country. I believe that mainstream media are effective at dividing the nation, writing articles that are designed to cause anger, at times it is difficult to find honesty in the writing. I wanted to discover firsthand what the BLM movement was about.
Experiencing the protests, it is clear that there’s a lot of anger and frustration towards racism in the country, and it was insightful to be able to listen to so many passionate speakers sharing their experiences. As a white photographer covering these protests, I quite often had the feeling that maybe I didn’t belong, wondering who I really was to be covering the demonstrations. I now believe that attending the protests has opened my eyes to a lot of things, mainly the fact that just being not racist doesn’t help solve much at all.
A more proactive approach is needed to help create change in the country when it comes to racism. Being more inclusive towards other cultures within a work place is one of the many things to think about. I work as camera crew in the film industry, an industry that is notorious for being dominated by white males. I have however seen a lot of positive change towards the diversion of cultures and gender when it comes to crewing up for productions. One organisation that has been set up is The Hue List, a film and TV crewing service for hiring BAME workers in the UK and EU. A wonderful initiative for helping to create a more diverse group of workers in the UK film and tv industries.
In the process of wanting to be as objective as possible with my project, I also photographed an opposing protest on the 13th June. Far Right and English Defense League supporters turned up in Westminster to counter protest the BLM demonstrations. It didn’t take long to realise that these protesters where basically using this opportunity to have a ‘piss up’ in the park, with little to no agenda to their protesting. Witnessing EDL supporters harassing members of the public, along with aggression towards police and the press, were all things that created a feeling of disgust within me. A placard from a BLM demonstration on Speakers Corner sticks in my mind, ”Racism is not Patriotism”.
I think one of the more eventful days was the 6th June. BLM protesters peacefully marched down Whitehall to the gates of Downing Street. In a dramatic turn of weather, a thunder storm opened up and torrential rain poured down on London in an almost disorientating fashion. This created chaos on the street, riling up protesters as a select group of people began throwing projectiles and smoke grenades towards Metropolitan police and Downing Street. In a turn of events this led to mounted police officers attempting to control the crowds of protesters.
A young protester then pushed his bike into one of the horses, causing the horse to spook and for a police officer to sustain serious injuries. These events all got majorly criticized, with opinions stating that the Met police acted too heavily in this scenario. It was a combination of people turning up to purposefully cause trouble and the police making some bad decisions controlling that. Leading to the BLM movement as a whole receiving backlash from the media for the events that happened that day.
Pain and hopelessness comes from not being accepted or seen as worthy. Too many times the system in the United States has excluded Black, Indigenous, Latinx, People of Color, women non-binary, and LGBTQ+ folks from the American agenda of freedom, acceptance, and access to getting ones needs met. We pray for a system and world that doesn’t kill our loved ones because of teachings that Black people are criminals. Praying for a world where trans people can get surgeries or change their name on their ID without being looked at differently or denied. Praying for a world where LGBTQ+ men and womxn can receive health care equally. Praying for a world that doesn’t see people as other, and instead sees everyone, accepts everyone, and a world where we can come together as a community in unity.
Here are some organizations in Nashville that focus on making Black, Indigenous, Latinx, LGBTQ+ people feel accepted and protected: @mashup.nation – Mashup founded by Brian Marshall and Justin Lofton is a non profit that provides health care resources to LGBTQ+ men of color in Nashville as well as resources for health care professionals @nashvillelaunchpad– Nashville Launch Pad provides street free sleep to youth from ages 18-24 specifically focusing on affirming LGBTQ+ youth @blissandthetrashplants– Bliss and the Trash Plants is a community organization run by Bliss Cortez focusing on getting Queer, Trans, BIPOC folx needs met sustainably with the community through grocery/wellness kits and plants.
Another death at the hands of police brutality and the world goes on fire: enough is enough. People have descended to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd, who died on May 2nd in Minneapolis, Minnesota after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while handcuffed and lying face down on the street. The life of another black person so unjustly and mercilessly cut short has touched hearts and angered of millions of people around the world. Large numbers of demonstrations organised by Black Lives Matter and many more globally have demanded justice and the end of police brutality in remembrance for the many who have died because of the colour of their skin.
Paris, 2 June 2020: The demonstration in support of the family of Adama Traoré, a black boy died on 19 July 2016 in the barracks of the “gendarmerie” of Persan ( Val d’Oise), collected more than 20,000 people gathered outside the Court of Paris despite the prohibition of the (Prefecture). An appeal to demonstrate was launched in the previous days by the committee “Justice pour Adama” denouncing a “rejection of justice” in a case that became for its defenders the symbol of the fight against police violence: in four years, three medical investigations have denied the responsibilities of the “gendarmes”, then that a private one ordered by the family of Adama states the opposite.
The demonstration follows the spear in recent days of the hashtag #Moiaussijaipeurdevantlapolice and the assassination of the afro-American George Floyd’s in the US. Assa Traoré, sister of Adama, in an interview with Franceinfo said that the death of Floyd recalls that of Adama relaunching this link in another statement issued to BFMTV where he declares that “the indignation denounced in the United States is the same as what happens in France.” After a peaceful start marked by choruses and applause, the police used force to disperse the huge crowd, causing rioting for hours in the area surrounding the Tribunal.
Photos by Daniele Napolitano
During the Italian National Republic Day on the 2nd June, a group of women stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The name of the group ‘Rete Donne Migranti e Figlie’, literally translating’ Network of Migrant women and daughters’ organised the protest in a significative place; by the monument that remembers the Italian deaths in the Battle of Dogali in 1887 during the Italian colonisation of Eritrea. On the group’s facebook page the aims of the protest are as follow: ‘June 2nd, 2020- there is nothing to praise. Today we celebrate the Italian Republic based on class, gender and race discrimination and on migrants’ exploitation and criminalization.’