Hundreds of demonstrators take part in Million People March

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of west London to take part in the first ever Million People March to protest against systemic racism in the UK.

Organisers hope the march will continue the conversations about race started by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and give the BAME community “a louder voice”.

The march takes place this year in lieu of the annual Notting Hill carnival, though organisers said they aimed to incorporate the same spirit of freedom through peaceful protest.

Around 400 demonstrators walked along Bayswater Road from Notting Hill tube station, finishing in Hyde Park.

Million People March
Million People March

At several points along the way the crowd stopped, sitting down in the road and even breaking into a rendition of Redemption Song by Bob Marley, as demonstrators raised their fists.

The march was organised by Ken Hinds, an adviser to Scotland Yard, Sasha Johnson, a youth worker and activist, rapper 2 Badda, and author Anthony Spencer.

Mr Spencer said fighting systemic racism was a “huge task” and likened the struggle to rowing “from one side of the Atlantic to the other”.

“This is not a hardened protesters march, this is a family protest march for people who don’t normally protest,” he said.

“This is a million people march because of the numbers, we’re trying to have a louder voice.

“This is like a rowing expedition from one side of the Atlantic to the other side on a little boat.

“You start rowing but that rowing will stop at some point when you get to the other side, and that’s how we see this fight.

“It’s a huge task.”

Mr Spencer said the movement aimed to introduce a new initiative, the Race Offenders Register, to prosecute those committing race offences.

Million People March
Million People March

“This is a fight that can be won by laws. This is why the Million People March is asking about laws,” he said.

“The Race Offenders Register is a tool that we believe can begin the changing of behaviour right across wherever racism exists.

“We’re looking at bringing in laws to protect our black citizens.

“We protect everything else. We protect dogs, we protect eagles, we protect dead statues.

“Let’s protect people for a change. Let’s protect black people.”

“Once we see there’s actual true intention to protect the lives of black people and change systemic suffering, we will stop marching and we will work with the Government.

“Racism has been defined by the white population, not by us, we need to redefine racism to start this conversation again.”

Co-organiser Ken Hinds previously accused the Metropolitan Police of discrimination after he was threatened with arrest for organising the march.

Under new Health Protection Regulations 2020, introduced following the coronavirus pandemic, protests of more than 30 people are allowed as long as the organisers have completed a risk assessment.

The Million People March comes the day after thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London to protest against lockdown restrictions and the wearing of face masks.

Police attempted to disperse crowds and arrested two men on suspicion of breaking newly-imposed coronavirus regulations.

Organisers of Sunday’s demonstration reminded those involved several times throughout the day to adhere to social-distancing measures as much as possible.

Sasha Johnson, another co-organiser, said she hoped the movement would “empower the community to strive for better”.

“As a people, we’re not going to stop until we have equal rights and justice,” she said.

“Our message is listen to us, hear our words, we want sustainable and tangible change.

“We don’t just want tokenistic promises, we don’t want it to come from a hegemonic standpoint.

“We want it to be for the people.”