Million People March Protesters in Notting Hill against racism

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Dozens of anti-racism demonstrators have assembled in west London on what would have been the first day of this year’s Notting Hill carnival.

Protesters lay down in the street outside Notting Hill station to demonstrate against systemic racism.

The campaigners brought signs that read “The UK is not innocent” and “Enough is Enough” as they obstructed approaching traffic.

The march stopped outside Hyde Park and broke into an interpretation of Redemption Song by Bob Marley as demonstrators raised their fists.

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Organisers say the movement plans to push a Race Offenders Register, to prosecute those committing race offences.

Sasha Johnson, activist and co-organiser of the Million People March, said she hoped the move would “empower the community”.

“Our message is to listen to us, hear our words. We want sustainable and real change, “Sasha said.

“We don’t just want tokenistic words; we don’t want it to come from a hegemonic viewpoint. We want it to be for the people.”

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In May it was announced that for the first time in the carnival’s 54-year history that it would be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many have drawn links between the origins of the famous carnival and attempting to speak out against racism.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said: “Notting Hill Carnival originated as a defiant response to the racist violence black people were subjected to in the 1950s.

“Today, it is an important celebration of Black Caribbean culture and our country’s diversity.”

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However, Sir Keir echoed the police’s calls for people to take part in the festival online because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

London Mayor Sadiq Khana also appealed, tweeting: “if you are thinking of celebrating Notting Hill Carnival outdoors today, please don’t. COVID-19 is still a real threat to us all.

“Join in the Carnival spirit from home instead – you don’t want to miss out on today’s line up. #nhcAtHome

The organisers behind the annual festival have moved things online, offering three days of music and video online for an alternative virtual carnival.