Thanks to Anna who pointed me at the protest/march in Manchester for all the black people who have died in Ferguson, from police brutality over the years. It comes right after I wrote my own blog post about Ferguson following the guys on singleblackmale.
Its been 20 years since I took part in a protest, I decided after the crazy stuff which happened during the Criminal Justice Bill protests. I was done, especially watching how the whole thing got co-opt by others for their own reasons
It was amazing, the organiser put it on Facebook as a open event and within 2 days, 300+ people had signed up. Its a true testament of what can be achieved with emergence and what a great reason to bring people together.
I got to St Peters Square where the protest/march started about 12:10. There were about 80-100 people hanging around. White Tshirts with victims names on them and signs with a number of different phrases on them. A few really great chosen speakers spoke and then we were off. We marched around Albert Square (where the Christmas Markets are, I think originally we were going to march through them but as I suggested security made it clear they don’t want us) down Princess street up Portland Street along China town and on to Piccadilly Gardens.
Once at Piccadilly Gardens, the microphone was thrown open to anybody who wanted to talk about Ferguson. It started well with a number of speakers including myself. However once again other organisations used the opportunity to co-opt the event to their own ends. It was shocking and at some points! It was shameful as the best intentions were rocked. Theres a rant on the facebook event thread which is full of fire but there are bits I do agree with…
…It really hurt to see the organisers visibly upset by the end. This is what happens when a group of concerned individuals take the initiative to organise a purely grass roots event unaffiliated to any groups, only for groups and parties to greedily swoop down on it and ruthlessly exploit it like vultures. Shame on you! This event was about Mike Brown and every other black victim of police violence, past present and future. NOT about your group…
Shame indeed, there was quite a few times when I thought about just going home, heck I had somewhere else (Sunday dinner at Jasmine’s) I needed to be. But this was important and I wanted to hear it through.
I did bump into a old friend and we got talking about what had happened and what we should take from it. I mentioned Ambient Belonging which recently came back up from a wired piece about a possible reason why women are not taking up roles in computer science. Ambient belonging I have never mentioned before on my blog although I heard it first in the video I linked to.
On the slight run back to the flat, I got thinking about Umair Haque’s Whats it means to change the world rant and how critical it is to have diversity in tech sector. Ayesha Mittal and Naomi Nao Mi were able to organise using widely available services but could there be a startup which would make it even easier and better at prolonging the relationship beyond the one event? Or a better question who is working on systems and use-cases for them? I bet you Google, Facebook and the rest of the stacks certainly are not.
So I am glad I went out, even while I wasn’t really 100%. There was no police involvement, no trouble makers, no big opposition from Manchester’s Sunday shoppers. It was however, upsetting to see things co-opted as the young people just wanted to express themselves, their thoughts on whats going on and pay tribute in their own way… The Ego of the organisations which tried to take over, was shocking and I’m glad they got the cold shoulder for their lack of respect in something more of a remembrance than protest. For example the socialist worker setup a stand at St Peters even when told to go away.
Ferguson has America corruption all over it and something we all need to tackle black, white, green… but today wasn’t about that… It was remembrance of the many who have lost their lives for their skin colour and the voices of the next generation. Why would you ever want to silence them?