Protestors call for racial equality outside Portsmouth Guildhall a year after the murder of George Floyd

PROTESTORS took the knee outside the Guildhall to mark a year since the murder of African-American George Floyd amid more calls for racial justice.

Supporters of Black Lives Matter (BLM) Portsmouth and Stand Up To Racism Portsmouth, along with members of Portsmouth City UNISON, gathered outside the corridors of power in the city for the occasion.

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Campaigners held aloft posters, chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’ and delivered speeches calling for change.

Nala-Paris Mbah, five, centre. Black Lives Matter campaigners take a knee in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, on the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, US. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

At the front of the protest was Milton-based Nala-Paris Mbah, five, who caught the imagination last June when she appeared on stage in front of hundreds of people at the Black Lives Matter protest in Guildhall Square.

After Tuesday evening’s protest she said: ‘If black lives don’t matter it means my life and my mummy and daddy’s lives don’t matter. I’m only five. It’s just not fair. I can’t not like someone because they are different.’

Mr Floyd's death sparked anti-racism demonstrations in Portsmouth last year and across the UK, with thousands of people gathering at protests in cities including London, Manchester, Cardiff, Leicester and Sheffield.

Mr Floyd was murdered on May 25 last year under the knee of a white police officer which was captured on video before going viral, sparking marches in cities across the world.

The anniversary comes just weeks after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of his murder.

Mariam Daniel, an organiser of BLM in Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s been a year and what happened has made a lot of people realise. It also raised things that have happened here in the UK.

‘It’s not just an American problem (racism) happens here too. It’s all based on unconscious bias.

‘It’s good (Chauvin) has been put in prison but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. But it’s not just about people getting killed by the police. It’s things like the medical and education system.

‘I don’t think things have improved since last year. People are more aware and open to say things more but have things changed? No.’

Portsmouth Grammar School pupil Destiny Rose-Forde Kennedy, 16, spoke of the ‘treatment’ she has received in being subjected to racial slurs as ‘something that just happened’ with the ‘roots of slavery still living on today’.

‘I was never taught about the black kings and queens in Africa and all the amazing contributions they made to this country,’ she said.

Sandra Charles, of Stand up to Racism, spoke of ‘institutional racism’ and referred to some victims killed by law enforcement agencies

Christine McMillan, a member of Stand up to Racism, said: ‘As an elderly white woman I’ve had my moments of wondering whether it is all just a bit exaggerated but the more I’ve listened to the stories and discovered some of the horrific things that are going on the more you realise we have to bring about change.’

Multiple events are planned across America and Britain to remember Mr Floyd’s life and reaffirm calls for racial equality.

In the US members of the Floyd family will be hosted by president Joe Biden in the White House as he seeks to push through significant police reform legislation.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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