Leeds Black Lives Matter demonstration – fight for a society free of all oppression

Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park, Leeds – photo Iain Dalton

For the second weekend in a row Leeds saw a huge BLM demo which again was peaceful and problem free. 5000 people gathered in Hyde Park for a well-managed socially distanced protest.

James Ellis, Leeds Socialist Party
The organisers took great care to ensure that the event was safe with hand sanitiser, gloves and masks being provided upon entrance. There was also very visible stewarding of the event and a section for families and vulnerable individuals. We also took care when intervening by being cautious of social distancing, wearing protective equipment and having our own sanitiser available for people to use.
The organisers also ensured that there was a BSL interpreter on stage to interpret the speakers. The result was a protest that felt accessible, safe and positive.
The protest had a slightly different character to the previous weekends protest with many of those in attendance being students from one of the four local universities.
The Socialist Party was again well received by those in attendance. We ran out placards and all 500 of the leaflets we brought were handed out not long after the protest started. We sold lots of papers and had a large number of people leave their contact details saying they were interested in finding out more about our ideas and the party.

Socialist Party members campaigning at Black Lives Matter demonstration – photo Iain Dalton
The speakers themselves were varied and passionate with many taking the time to point out the racism that does exist within the UK – a point echoed in many of the placards that read “the UK is not innocent”. The majority of speakers focussed on celebrating Black culture, encouraging protestors to further educate themselves on the nature of racism and privilege and to reject all prejudice.

Many speakers made links between the oppression faced by the BAME community and other oppressed groups such as the LGBTQ+ community. We support this call to draw together the different groups fighting oppression; ultimately only collective action can change society.

We would also point out that all forms of oppression are linked due to the nature of capitalism. Oppression and capitalism go hand-in-hand. None of the speakers explicitly talked about the importance of class and class struggle to the fight against racism, but the many people that approached our stall enthusiastically agreed with us on this point.

One of the speakers pointed out that there still has not been justice for Grenfell and that Neo-liberalism is a driving cause of racism – this was met with a very positive reaction! We agree and would go further – the BLM movement should embrace the teachings of Malcolm X in recognising that you cannot have racism without capitalism. By arming itself with a socialist programme the anti-racist movement that has swept the world could fight for a society free of all oppression!

We in the Socialist Party have been honoured to stand alongside so many thousands of passionate, young anti-racists in the last few weeks and look forward to continuing to support and grow this movement.

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