On 28 January Glasgow showed its solidarity with Ferguson with its own "Black Lives Matter" candlelit vigil in Buchanan Street in support of the victims of US and UK injustices in Ferguson, New York and London.
The Glasgow city centre vigil was originally held to coincide with the Ferguson UK Solidarity Speaking Tour with Patrisse Cullors currently under way in English cities. However the tour has been extended with Cullors - a co-founder of Black Lives Matter now speaking in Glasgow on February 2nd at both Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.
Organised by Ethnic Minority Civic Congress Scotland (a newly re-established Black and minority community led-civil rights forum) along with and students from City of Glasgow College, Strathclyde and Glasgow universities and Unity Centre Glasgow (an asylum seeker solidarity activists collective) the vigil was also attended by activists from Provan SNP and the STUC as well as many individuals from the African, Asian and Scottish communities.
In between the intermittent driving snow showers, vigil attendees lit candles showed their solidarity with the communities fighting back in the United States by shouting 'Black Lives Matter - We Can't Breathe' - the slogan created by the masses on the streets of Ferguson. Donald Dewar statue may never have heard such a militant black-led anti-racist demo shouting 'Too Black Too Strong', and invoking the memory of the US Civil Rights movement. Graham Campbell Secretary of the EMCC led protesters in chants of 'I am...Mike Brown.. I AM Eric Garner ...I AM Treyvon Martin, I AM Mark Duggan, I AM... Sean Rigg....One by one the names of US and UK victims of injustice were read out and chanted. To cries of 'No Justice No Peace - Until We Get Justice There will be No Peace' Graham then introduced the rally with his opening remarks making the connections with the 2000 deaths in Nigeria as well the Charlie Hebdo killings - and how all lives mattered.
Helen Martin STUC Assistant Secretary on behalf of Scotland's trade union movement emphasised that no one expected that with a Black president in office for two terms that racist policing and civil rights would not be any more advanced under Obama. It was important in the light of the attacks in Paris to be building unity and standing up to racism and Islamophobia whatever the circumstances. Our solidarity in Glasgow showed that for us Black lives matter, in Ferguson, or Nigeria or in the UK. The STUC would continue always show support for communities.
Brother Mando from the Unity Centre Collective gave his detailed analysis of the important linkages between the imprisonment of Black and minority ethnic people who have never committed crime, held in detention centres - jailed with no idea of when they were getting out. The struggles of refugees linked with the fight against state attacks on asylum rights and with the struggles for civil rights in the US. Don;t rely on the media to tell about the deaths of 2000 people in northern Nigeria - On the Black Lives Matter movement Mando said that "Unity is fully committed to building the Black Lives Matter movement and this must not be a one-off day. As activists we must commit ourselves.
Sanjay Lago - NUS President of City of Glasgow College Student union asked the crowd 'If we are Cut we all bleed the same - red - and if I punch you (and I am not going to) we all bruise the same don't we?'"
Richard Haley of SACC emphasised the role the current Police Scotland Commissioner Stephen House who had played in ramping up use of armed police in London's Metropolitan Police when Brazilian innocent Jean Charles De Menezes was unlawfully killed by armed police at Stockwell in period of fear after the London bombings. The use of armed and deadly forced was being legitimised even in Britain - as emphasised by the death of Jimmy Mubenga who's killers had escaped justice in the recent acquittals of the the deportation officers involved. The killers of Jimmy Mubenga has escaped justice and that that would not have happened if he has been white. Richard was pleased that the Scottish Govt spoke out against arming the police in Scotland - who thankfully were not as violent and repressive as in the US but that it was important the police in Scotland are not routinely armed.
Piers Doughty-Brown - yes movement activist and SNP member spoke of his experience of being the only protester arrested on a recent Yes movement demo. He was sad that in today;s Scotland the colour of your skin does matter and that we still face unequal treatment at the hands of police.
The rally was closed by Sister Titi from Strathclyde BME society who explained why she wanted to show international solidarity with the struggles in Ferguson ' i am here because I wanted to show that we care - that everybody's life matters'. This was echoed in the placards people raised - 'All LIves Matter' and 'Pain Has No Colour'. Activists ended with a stirring rendition of the shout 'Power to the People - All Power to All of the People'
Photos © Anne McLaughlin
Black Lives Matter: Public Meetings
Don't miss these public meetings in Glasgow on Monday 2 February. Speakers include Patrisse Cullors, Co- Founder, Black Lives Matter Ferguson, Missouri.
5pm-6pm, Adam Smith Lecture Theatre, rm 1115 , Adam Smith Building, University of Glasgow. G12 8RT
7pm - 9pm, University of Strathclyde Students' Association Debating Chamber, Level 6 John St, Glasgow G1 1JH
Read the Ferguson Solidarity Tour UK launch statement.