Students have held a protest outside the main building of University College London (UCL) in support of the Ferguson Solidarity Tour.
Organised by the Defend the Right to Protest, the United Families & Friends Campaign and NUS Black Students Campaign, the tour is a response to the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson, which eventually led to an acquittal, sparking riots and protests across the USA.
First speaker Patrisse Cullors, Co-Founder of the BlackLivesMatter campaign, described the tour as a “call to action and to push the United States of America and the global context that systematically discriminates against black people [to react]… my question to you is, what are you going to do and what have you been doing?”
An interest in human rights and solidarity were at the basis of the gathering which focused on police brutality.
Adam Elliott-Cooper, a PhD student at the University of Oxford, is a prominent name in the struggle for equality in academia and has been part of the BlackLivesMatter campaign since its start.
“On average since 1991, one person a week has died at the hands of the British police, which is a fairly high statistic… one of the ways to resist this form of police brutality is through popular protest.” He also spoke about a recent incident at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where a police officer had been reported by his colleagues for using excessive force.
In December 2014, the London Black Revs staged a ‘die-in’ protest at Westfield Shopping Centre in White City.
Elliott-Cooper, who attended the protest, explained the motive behind it: “In the 1960s and 70s you knew capital and finance influenced political policy… capital is now being produced in the global South therefore we don’t disrupt it at the point of production, we disrupt it at the point of consumption.”
Members of the audience voiced their concerns over the degree of change demonstrations and protest can realistically bring.
Carole Duggan, the aunt of Mark Duggan – whose death sparked the 2011 London riots – spoke about the importance of solidarity: “Campaigns are hard to keep going because wherever you go, you meet people who have different ideas, there is too much in-house fighting. We need to have a common cause of people fighting.”
Images by Martin Cervenansky