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Black Lives Matter UK

Janine Wiedel | United Kingdom

Following a 'facebook' call to action, over a thousand protesters turned up at Oxford Circus and marched through Central London in solidarity and outrage at the fatal and brutal shootings by police in the USA of two unarmed black men: Alton Sterling & Philando Castile.

“Black Lives Matter UK”, began in solidarity and outrage at the fatal and brutal shootings by police in the USA. As Natalie Jeffers, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter UK said:  "there might be fewer guns used in the UK, but there is a war going on against black people”.

In Britain there is a huge gulf between the experiences of black and white people, in education, housing, criminal justice, pay and employment. Young black men are four times more likely to be stopped by the police than young white men; ethnic minorities remain far more likely to go to prison than white people found guilty of the same offence.

In the wake of the Brexit vote there has been an escalation of racism and xenophobia: online, in the media and at street level. There is a direct and longstanding relation between state racism and street racism: state violence and street violence. 

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European migrants are being told to ‘go home’ from the country they have made their home; Jamaican migrants are being taken from their homes and families in the middle of the night and deported; black and brown migrants are drowning in unprecedented numbers in the Mediterranean; and black and ethnic minorities born in the UK, are being told to ‘go home’, from the country in which they have always lived. The ‘other’ remains a scapegoat for diverse social ills.

Throughout my career a documentary photographer, I have focused on multicultural issues and groups struggling to survive on the edges of mainstreem society.  As a student in California one of my earliest project was on the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s.

The current escalation of racism and xenophobia both in the USA and in Britain (where I have been living since the mid 70s) is extremely disturbing.

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