It was a beautiful, sunny day on the lawn of the Confederation Building, and while it was windy, those gusts failed to dampen the spirits of the over two thousand participants that showed up in support of Black Lives Matter NL last Saturday. Signs were held as high as fists, and various chants echoed out from the crowd, encouraged by the honks of cars passing by. Kind strangers passed out water, sunscreen, masks, and signs to anyone who needed them, and we were united in a way that I had never been part of before.
After the death of George Floyd at the hands of Officer Derek Chauvin, the world erupted and filled the streets with people who were tired of the systemic racism and police brutality that black people endured everyday. Suddenly, people banded together to sign petitions, attend protests, call senators, and spread awareness that we were tired of how our black brothers and sisters were being treated. We want change, and that is what this rally was about.
The Black Lives Matter NL rally gave Newfoundlanders the chance to add their voices to those demanding justice for the victims of police brutality, whose assailants continued to walk the streets as free men. Speakers shone a light on the various forms of racism they have endured in Newfoundland, as well as all over the country. One woman recounted being mistaken for the nanny of her two children, and audios played at the rally depicted the very first time the participants in the videos experienced racism and discrimination.
“It is not enough to say you are not racist. You must commit to being anti-racist everyday…. We are sending a message to the racists that there is no place for you in Newfoundland!”
At the height of the event, the entire field took a knee and raised their fists in the air during a nine minute moment of silence for the lives lost due to police brutality, including that of George Floyd.
This was the first of what I hope to be many protests that I attend in my life. It is not enough to post on social media about these injustices, you must get out there and make it known that you support, respect, and will fight for our brothers and sisters, who merely have a different skin colour. We must strive to amplify their voices for the world to hear so that this outrage does not fade into a simple ‘moment,’ but a genuine movement that our kids will read about in their history books. I was a part of and fought for something much bigger than myself this past weekend, and I am so beyond proud of those who stood beside me to make their voices heard. “No justice, no peace,” was a recurring chant that echoed through the crowd, and I hope that it stuck with enough people that even more people will show up next time. We are stronger together – do not let our momentum fade.
Most importantly, here is a list of petitions that you can sign to help make a difference. It only takes a second, and could help save lives, and bring justice to anyone who has been a victim of anti-black racism.