London

Hundreds gather for anti-racism rally at London city hall

From the steps of city hall, organizers of Black Lives Matter London led a crowd of hundreds of people Saturday afternoon in chants of “no justice, no peace” and “defund the police.”

It's the second Black Lives Matter protest to happen in London this month

Hundreds of people spilled on to the street outside London city hall during the second Black Lives Matter rally in London in June. (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

From the steps of city hall, organizers of Black Lives Matter London led a crowd of hundreds of people Saturday afternoon in chants of "no justice, no peace" and "defund the police."

It's the second rally to happen this month in London, calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality against Black people. The first one, two weeks ago, drew a crowd of 10,000 people to Victoria Park.

"We continue to see no change in the system that's designed to fail us," one of the founders, Keira Roberts, told a crowd that spilled from the sidewalk and onto Dufferin Avenue.

"My heart feels like an open wound that can never heal because the people in power tell us that they care about our lives, yet we continue to see a new headline of the police killing our brothers and sisters, every day."

“There’s a lot of young people here at the protest, and they’re screaming at us to do something," said Sadie South (left), who participated in Saturday's rally alongside Jason Mader (right). (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

The protest is one of hundreds across Canada and the United States, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the end of May. The Black man was killed in Minneapolis, Minn. by a white police officer who pressed his knee on Floyd's neck until he stopped breathing.

After a series of speeches, protestors were led in a march around the perimeter of Victoria Park – at times blocking traffic – before returning to 300 Dufferin Avenue.

There was little visible presence from London police.

"Listen to the people, listen to what they're saying," said Sadie South, who took part in the demonstration. "There's a lot of young people here at the protest, and they're screaming at us to do something, because it's their world that they're trying to protect."

Margaret Chappel said she's proud of today's young people, and hopes that they don't give up "because I'm going to be right there with them." (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

Margaret Chappel said she attended Saturday's protest because of her grandchildren.

"I'm proud of the young kids today, and I hope they don't give up. Because I'm going to be right there with them."

Her message for city hall is to listen to Black communities. Lee Griffith's message is the same.

"Start listening, open up your minds, change can happen," he said. "The more people who get up and say something, the better it is, and hopefully that'll do something. You can sign the petitions, you can do this and that. But that hasn't worked in the past. We'll see what happens now."

Demonstrators listened to speeches outside of city hall, before marching around the perimeter of Victoria Park. (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

Reem Bakhit said her family moved to Canada from Saudi Arabia 20 years ago, because they had heard it was an accepting country.

"Unfortunately, ever since I've been here and my family's been here, we go through discrimination on a daily basis."

Reem Bakhit (middle), said she has countless stories of discrimination since moving to Canada. She attended Saturday's rally with her sisters, Ranem Bakhit (left) and Riham Bakhit (right). (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

Bakhit said she has countless stories of discrimination, including ones of being followed and kicked out of stores.

"Honestly, it's nothing new," she said. But being at Saturday's rally with her two sisters felt good, she explained.

"It feels like we finally belong. Everybody is finally out and speaking out about this together, it's unity. And I'm so proud of London, finally."

There were dozens of signs in the crowd, including this one calling for police to be defunded, held by Isabelle Klassen. (Liny Lamberink/CBC London)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liny Lamberink

Reporter/Editor

Liny Lamberink is a reporter for CBC North. She moved to Yellowknife in March 2021, after working as a reporter and newscaster in Ontario for five years. She can be reached at liny.lamberink@cbc.ca

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