By Yoos, Cam on June 8, 2020.
The Black Lives Matter protests in Lethbridge continued for a second day in front of Lethbridge city hall on Saturday, where not only the community continued to show its support in solidarity with the movement, but the true colours of the city pushed through.
Following Thursday’s protests, organizers wanted to keep the momentum going, because the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t a single-day problem, but decades of repressed anger, bigotry and racism.
“Originally, I didn’t know about the first protest on Thursday, I just created this while I was at work because I thought that we really needed to share our voice and show our support for our brothers and sisters who are dying right now,” says Joy Warren, protest organizer.
“My little brother, he is black, I am an adopted kid myself, and we have gone through struggles together. I have defended my brother and others because of racism, but Lethbridge needs to know that this is not just one day, it’s not just one protest, we need to show that there is support no matter what.”
Many people of colour in Lethbridge have been sharing their stories of macro and micro aggressions from law enforcement officers and other community members, saying enough is enough. Protesters also shared how the phrase “all lives matter” diminishes the strength and unity of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, as it shows that those individuals don’t care about their repression and the violence and hate they have encountered.
“I have been told to go back to my hometown. I came here when I was very small so I don’t remember my hometown, this is what I know. I have been called the N-word, I have been told I can’t buy something because it looked expensive, I have been kicked out of stores because they didn’t serve us,” says activist Janet Logwe.
“When somebody tells me that all lives matter, it pushes down the fact that Black lives matter as well. If all lives mattered, why are we protesting about black lives matter? They should be joining in because if all lives matter, then black lives matter as well. People shouldn’t be mad about Black Lives Matter because we are within ‘all lives matter.'”
Many Albertans have been taken aback by Alberta UCP government officials who haven’t been supporting the movement of equality. However, some protesters took issue with Lethbridge Conservative MP Rachael Harder’s appearance Thursday, claiming she showed up to the rally to take a knee not out of respect for George Floyd and other murdered people of colour, but for a photo opportunity to press her personal beliefs on ‘all lives matter’.
“The day before the rally on Thursday, all week there was protests across Alberta, and the UCP used their platform of thousands to reach out and celebrate National Milk Day, then for Rachael Harder to show up hours after posting that for a photo-op is a complete joke and there is no respect,” says activisit Dominique Charles.
Frustrations are building over using the Black Lives Matter movement as a social media trend, and as the protest voices grow stronger, they are trying to get those who are using the movement as a platform for their own political or personal agenda to understand the negative effects of their actions.
“On Thursday, I saw people using the moment for social media clout. I thought it was stupid that they were at the event, not to support but to post photos,” says Logwe.
“Black Lives Matter is not a trend, it’s a real, serious situation that we are trying to get through to parliament and other people to understand that we want to have equal rights. It should not be a trend and it gets me really riled up when people show up just to take pictures.”
Politicians were not the only ones whose actions spoke louder than words as members of the Lethbridge Police Service were invited to join, or even stand in solidarity with protestors, but declined.
“I see it from all sides, but I also see the police terrorize minorities, pull and hurt homeless,” says Charles. “Right now at the rally it’s passive aggressive, but normally in the streets is aggressive. They were invited multiple times to come and join us, and only one joined in solidarity and it was the one black cop there, he raised a fist with us and the other officer signaled him to stop. Even members of The Watch drove by taunting us and laughing at our protest.”
Negativity from the ignorance of people aside, the protest on Saturday afternoon at Lethbridge city hall brought community members together to raise the voices of Black and Indigenous people everywhere, to show that a revolution has begun, and it is time that Lethbridge moves forward.
“Today has been a great day, people are showing up and supporting, and it is really amazing to see people actually caring about Black and Indigenous lives,” says Logwe. “Wake up, times have changed, we are going forward and we welcome you to join. If you want to stay behind the times, fine, stay there, we are going to make a revolution and if they don’t want to join, it’s their problem.”
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