Barbadians turned out in their numbers today to protest against racial inequality.
The Wildey Road, which divides Automotive Arts and the US Embassy, was transformed into a sea of black, as people lined the sidewalks in solidarity with people across the world to protest the extrajudicial killing of African-American George Floyd by a white police officer on May 25.
Armed with placards and banners, the protestors who were mostly dressed in black clothing, demonstrated for an hour and a half, supervised by a heavy police presence of no less than 10 officers.
There have been similar protests in the US, UK, Australia, Germany, Italy and Canada.
Organized by the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration and the 13th June 1980 Movement, the protests featured several speeches, musical performances and poems, which highlighted the plight and pain of African Americans over the world.
While the event was mainly peaceful, at times police officers and protesters exchanged words, especially after news spread that the permit for the march had been revoked.
Head of the Pan African Coalition of Barbados, Wayne ‘Onphra’ Wells told members of the media that he was very pleased with the turnout.
He said he was glad to see Barbadians standing in solidarity.
“We here in Barbados are joining universally against the crimes that are committed continuously against African people. This is 400 years in slavery and yet we as a people are still being hunted, we are still being brutalized and we are still being murdered,” he said amidst chanting.
“If it is one time that Barbados should be proud of our sons and daughters it is this morning. Look at these people who have come out to express solidarity with the universal pain that we Africans suffer regardless of where we are, and moreso in the land of the free and the land of liberty. We as a people are saying enough is enough.”
However, he took issue with a decision by the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) to revoke the licence for the protest.
He contended that at a time when police should be lending support they were doing the opposite.
“This is not a situation that should be stopped by force but is a situation that should be encouraged and I am sure our beloved Prime Minister Mia Mottley will have a say in this matter because anytime only the letter speaks and not the spirit of the law then we are going backward instead of going forward,” he pointed out.
Among those present to lend support were former Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley.
He told Barbados TODAY he felt the need to support the protest.
“I’m here to support a very important stand being taken here by the people of Barbados in relation to the brutality of police in the United States to one of our black brothers.
“It has been constant police harassment and it tells you the importance of protests. You have to stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters because police brutality in whatever form should not be condoned.”
Amanda Howard told Barbados TODAY that Floyd’s death was a crime against humanity.
However, she said the issue was much wider than just Floyd’s killing.
“This is not just a George Floyd issue, this is a humanitarian issue and when one is affected all are affected so we have to stand up for righteousness, we have to stand up for justice, equal justice for all whether you are white or black. So I am gathered here today in solidarity to unify, to make a change regarding the judicial justice system,” she said.
Marcus Stephen was one of the most vocal protestors.
He voiced his concern at the decision by the police to revoke the permit and end the protest.
“At the end of the day if permission was given and certain regulations were stipulated I don’t see why police should come after the fact and tell people they can’t gather.
“We have a right to gather and we have a right to protest if we choose to. Police have their job to do but we also have a job to do because where there is no justice there is no peace,” he argued. (RB)
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