Londoners Chant 'Hands Up Don't Shoot' As Ferguson Protests Spread To Europe
Londoners Chant 'Hands Up Don't Shoot' As Ferguson Protests Spread To Europe
By Brian Whelan and Megan Specia / mashable.com

Demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in London on Wednesday night in solidarity with protesters in Ferguson.

The protesters in London chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” a slogan made popular by American demonstrators after police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, a black teenager on Aug. 9, sparking protests in Ferguson and beyond.

At 5:30 pm, people gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square to condemn the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson, a white officer.

Demonstrators from the group ‘Stand Up to Racism’ said the issue of police brutality is as pressing in Britain as it is in the United States, and that the Ferguson protests echoes the 2011 protests in the UK that became known as the London riots.

 
Central London march in support of Ferguson protests

People marching through Central London supporting the protests in Ferguson. IMAGE: ANDREA BALDO/GETTY

Speakers at the early evening rally in front of the embassy included relatives of Sean Rigg, a 40-year-old black musician who died in police custody in Brixton in 2008, and the family of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old man from Tottenham who was shot and killed by police on Aug. 4, 2011 — an event that helped spark the London riots.

In both cases, official investigators found no wrongdoing by police.

A second protest, organized by the London Black Revolutionaries – also known as the Black revs – followed around 7 pm, drawing many more people to the embassy on Grosvenor Square.

The group mostly comprises young black and Asian activists from London's suburbs who say they are fed up with the lack of militancy from political organizations campaigning around racism and inequality in the UK.

One event organizer, who spoke on the condition he only be identified as AJ, said the group had decided to protest as soon as they heard that Wilson wouldn’t be indicted in the killing of Brown.

"Ferguson has a lot of parallels with the UK," AJ said, but added that, "America has this huge political legacy hanging over it that shapes their racial and political questions...Politically, we are just starting out."

Speakers referenced Bloody Sunday, the killing of 26 civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland by police in 1972, as well as more contemporary issues such as police profiling Muslims. Throughout the demonstration, protesters chanted, “fuck the police.”

“We extend our full support to those resisting police brutality in Ferguson and their right to defend themselves, and urge that Black people on both sides of the Atlantic unify around and mobilise against the institutional violence that plagues our communities in the UK and the USA,” a post on the group’s Facebook page said.

After about an hour and a half, a breakaway group marched up Bond Street and Regent Street, led by a woman wearing leggings and a black balaclava. Demonstrators carrying placards saying, ‘black lives matter’ shut down traffic and left a trail of graffiti on the upscale shopping streets, spelling out, ‘all cops are bastards' as well as 'Justice 4 Mike Brown.'

Graffiti for Mike Brown pic.twitter.com/nu5JhusyVz

— Brian Whelan (@brianwhelanhack) November 26, 2014

After passing through Leicester Square, protesters surrounded the Charing Cross police station in a tense standoff, though police officers kept their distance and never engaged protesters directly. Unlike their Ferguson counterparts, the London police did not come out wearing riot gear and heavy weaponry but were dressed instead in bright yellow vests and police caps.

Crowd has surrounded Charing Cross police stationpic.twitter.com/bXIOymCSvt

— Brian Whelan (@brianwhelanhack) November 26, 2014

As the rain came down, protesters marched toward Downing Street and Parliament Square, with the demonstration eventually petering out around midnight.

March is STILL going, but it's really wet now and we are headed to Trafalgar... pic.twitter.com/t1w9XRnACT

— Brian Whelan (@brianwhelanhack) November 26, 2014

Brian Whelan is a journalist with Channel 4 News in London.

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Londoners Chant 'Hands Up Don't Shoot' As Ferguson Protests Spread To Europe