Nearly 10,000 protesters came out in support of the Black Lives Matter rally in London, Ont., on Saturday.
Londoners filled Victoria Park in support of the Black Lives Matter movement against the systemic racism and police brutality happening in the United States and Canada.
The City of London estimates 10,000 people were in attendance.
“Racism happens here, it happens to me, it happens to my son, it happens to my friends, and we have just been quiet and silent for far too long,” said Alexandra Kane, a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter London movement.
Kane said the day was not just to bring awareness to the “unfair” treatment by police of Black people but also that of Indigenous people.
She is hoping that from the Black Lives Matter movements they can see reform and changes within the government so that both Black and Indigenous people are “viewed and treated fairly.”
“We want people within our own Black community to know we support each other. We don’t often congregate and come together, but now we can do so safely without the fear of being put into a stereotypical category.”
The London Black Lives Matter protest was organized by five young Black women.
“I can’t even begin to name all of the times in the 18 years of my life that someone or something has made me feel less than because of the colour of my skin,” one of the organizers, Simone Schacht, said when speaking at the rally.
“We will no longer be silent and sit around and watch Black people die.”
The Black Lives Matter movement has seen thousands of people across Canada, the United States and the world join together following the death of George Floyd, a Black man died in police custody after a white police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck.
Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minn., was only the latest in a number of cases of Black men dying while in police custody.
Reacting to the recent events in the United States 10-year-old Noah said it made him cry.
“It disgusts me because we are human beings just like anyone else and we should not be treated differently,” Noah said when asked about racism in London.
Demonstrators were also there to bring attention to Londoner Caleb Tubila Njoko, who died after falling 15 storeys from a balcony after police responded to a 911 call his mother made to try and get him help for his mental health.
Several weeks after Njoko’s death, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Toronto woman, died after she fell 24 storeys from a balcony while officers were in her home.
Both incidents are currently under investigation by the Special Investigations Unit, which oversees incidents involving police. Their two deaths have also been the subjects of Black lives Matter protests in Canada.
Protestors could be heard chanting, ‘two, four, six, eight — stop the violence stop the hate” and “no justice, no peace” as they marched through downtown London. The event lasted from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and organizers handed out bottles of hand sanitizer and masks because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Nichelle Samuel was there with her husband and daughter in solidarity with her fellow Black Canadians calling for change.
“Ever time my husband leaves the house, it’s a constant worry something may happen,” she said. “Seeing what happens in the states only kind of reverberates here on a silent level.
“I want this rally to let people know this stuff happens silently, and if you see it, you hear it do something about it.”