Thousands march in London anti-black racism protest

Thousands of people took to the streets in downtown London, Ont. to march against racism and violence toward black people on Saturday.

Chants of "Stop the violence! Stop the hate" was one of many slogans heard Saturday

Before marching down the streets, Londoners raised their fists as people shared their experiences of being black in the city. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

Thousands of people took to the streets in downtown London, Ont. to march against racism and violence toward black people on Saturday.

Gathering first in Victoria Park to listen to people speak about their experiences around being black, the group then took over the streets. Their numbers were so great, they stretched sidewalk to sidewalk around several blocks. 

"It's not enough to say it's an American problem. It's a problem everywhere," said Leah Cabral, one of the thousands of Londoners at Saturday's protest. "It's not time to be quiet, you have to get out, you have to mobilize, you have to do something about it."

The death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in Minneapolis, Minn. by a white police officer who pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing, has sparked unrest across the U.S. and Canada. People have taken the streets in hundreds of cities to condemn the police's continued mistreatment of black people and demand an end to systematic racism.

Thousands of Londoners marched across downtown in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

"There have been too many murders and too many people have lost their lives to racism, discrimination and prejudice," said Ivy Okojie."It's 2020, we need to do better."

"It's time to be anti-racist," she added.

Protestors took Clarence Street before stopping traffic on Queens Avenue Saturday afternoon and headed back to the park, looping around again down Dundas Street.

'We can't be out here asking for change, we need to demand it," said Tara Legg (right) who was accompanied by her 15-year-old daughter, Tavia (left). (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

Long after the larger group had gone home, drivers continued to honk and wave placards around downtown streets.  

Fifteen-year-old Tavia Legg, said it was heart-warming to see how many Londoners came out to support the cause. 

"I don't see why we're all judged by the colour of our skin. It just shouldn't be allowed," Legg said. "We're all human beings." 

'This isn't about people stopping being mean to me, it's about a system that needs to be teared down," said Evodi Bashangi. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

Many black people at the protest said gatherings as these were a great opportunity to start a conversation about racism and to inform others of its effect, but said there is much more that needs to be done in order to see change. 

"After this march, do black lives still matter? Because I still go home to the same problem because of the system," said Evodi Bashangi.

"I still have my brothers and sisters that are getting arrested for no reason and I still have social services coming to bug me because I don't parent the way white people parent," she explained. 

"This is a systematic problem, not a problem with me."