It is believed around a thousand people gathered at Cassiobury Park to show their support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Watford today (June 6), two separate Black Lives Matter demonstrations joined together for a unified and peaceful event to express their solidarity after the death of George Floyd, and hundreds of years of police brutality and racism.

Initially, there were two demonstrations planned – one meeting outside the McDonald’s on High Street, Watford, and another outside the Five Guys an hour after.

But the event organisers decided to collaborate as a march which started from McDonald’s became a mass demonstration from people of all colours expressing the need to tackle racial injustices in the world.

The protesters continued walking to Cassiobury Park, as they chanted several empowering phrases such as “No Justice, No Peace” and repeating the words “I can’t breathe” – the words spoken by George Floyd as a police officer knelt on his neck before his death, and other past victims of police brutality.

One of the events were organised by a team known as the ‘Watford Alliance’, which hopes to create a wider support network for youths and black people in Watford.

Today is about ‘opening a dialogue’

Watford Observer:

The beginning half of the demonstration was covered by the Watford Observer in a Facebook livestream.

At first the gathering was slightly empty, but the High Street quickly filled up with many other protesters shortly before the march began.

Winston Davis, who helped support the demonstration, spoke to the Observer before giving a passionate speech discussing topics such as police brutality, the importance of the event in the UK, and holding this during the Covid-19 pandemic.

When looking at the mass crowd he pointed out that these people want “things to change” and to say, “enough is enough”.

Watford Observer:

He said: “The subliminal and overt racism that people have been facing for a very, very long time needs to stop.

“It’s not going to change by people just protesting and demonstrating, it’s about dialogue, and this is what today is about.

“Today is about having an open dialogue so people can listen and have a conversation. That is what will break down the attitudes and structures that keep us where we currently are.”

Many readers watching the live stream were quick to comment ‘all lives matter’ as a snark response to the Black Lives Matter movement, so Mr Davis explained the meaning behind the message.

Read more: Anthony Joshua talks about Black Lives Matter march in Watford

He said: “People that say ‘All Lives Matter’, yes we get it. We have serious situations in this country, we have budget cuts in all sectors which affects the ability for our service providers to serve the community, we have homelessness and the poor – these are serious issues.

“But the important thing is we have to deal with Black Lives Matter, because until black lives matters, we can’t move onto look at these other issues, because this is direct to black lives. We’re not just talking about the conditions people are living in, we’re talking about the direct threat to people’s action and ability to live.

“That’s why we need to address it right now. And people say ‘oh it’s not relevant to the UK’, people in the UK identify and sympathise with it, because although the issues may be slightly different in America, we emphasise with it because the underlying thing is exactly the same, and that’s why we need to take change and break down the structures that are holding us.

“All lives do matter, of course they matter as they should, but right now the focus needs to be on Black Lives Matter because we’re in danger right now, and we need to deal with that life threatening danger in front of us which is racism.”

Watford Observer:

Mr Davis admitted that some people may respectfully not understand why the movement is needed as they may not experience the things that black people do. Which is why he believes a conversation is needed.

He added: “There are annoyances that a white person might not understand. The fact that walking down the street as a black person and then police will see you as a danger or a threat- they could stop you more than they would a white person.

“And these are things that affect black people on a daily basis, I get it that some people might not understand – because why should they?

“For them driving their car, or walking down the street, going to another neighbourhood – for some white people you don’t experience it so you wouldn’t understand.

“But you should listen to what we’re saying, emphasise with it and respect it. Because this is not because we want some attention. It’s because it’s been going on for so long that people are hurting.”

Today is a ‘new day’ for Watford

Watford Observer:

A member of Watford Alliance who helped to organise the protest, Joe, explained that Watford needs to understand as a community that certain members are suffering and need help.

He said: “We want to make a change in the justice system and for people are getting killed.

“We want a better place for them, we don’t want them to experience what we experienced and what my friends have experienced.

“It’s more than America, it’s more than the UK, it’s about protecting the people, it doesn’t matter where you’re from it’s humanity and there’s humane decisions we should make.”

“Today is a new day for Watford, for Hertfordshire.”

He added: “It’s amazing to see so many people come together, this shows that we’re a community and we’re all together. Right now, black lives matter one hundred per cent.

“Because of the way they’re getting treated and mistreated, racial profiling and discrimination, us as a community we can show them we are one.

“We’re heading straight to the top.”

What about the Covid-19 pandemic?

Watford Observer:

Protesters were encouraged to social distance as much as they could today, which proved to be difficult due to the mass crowds.

Many people did try to keep a distance and wore face masks to protect themselves, but as more people joined this was harder to control.

But many people at the demonstration made it clear that they see the ongoing threat of racism a far greater danger than Covid-19.

Had nothing been said after the death of George Floyd, he could have ended up being just one of many black victims globally who were forgotten in the system.

Mr Davis, who led a speech, said: “Some people say to us you shouldn’t be out here protesting or speaking your voice, but here’s the thing.

“They’re saying it’s because of the dangers of Covid and I know it’s difficult with the social distancing and the dangers that Covid may pose to us, however – racism, genocide, for the last 100 years has killed at least 50 million people.

“So, we talk about genocide and racism in comparison to Covid – the problem is the racist pandemic that we face is far greater threat than Covid can ever be.

“The pandemic of racism is far greater – whenever we see racism we must stomp it out, whenever we see racism from someone rearing his head and giving us a look, or clutching their bag, we must re-educate them – we must call them out. And let them know this is not the way we are.

“When my boys grow up, I don’t want them to worry about the pain that we feel and the fight we are fighting.”