Sixteen minutes of silence – before brave voices spoke out about racism in York

People on Bishopthorpe Road stand in silence. Photograph: Alan Milner / Milner Creative
8 Jun 2020 @ 6.23 pm
| News

Another impressive anti-racism event in York saw a street fall silent for 16 minutes.

At 11am yesterday, around 300 people gathered on the green off Bishopthorpe Road opposite the Swan pub, to stand in silence – one minute for each of the 16 letters of Black Lives Matter.

Like the #TakeTheKnee event outside York Minster last week, the demonstration was in response to the killing of George Floyd by US police officers.

Photograph: Alan Milner / Milner Creative

It also brought the message much closer to home.

The silence was broken by a spontaneous round of applause. People then came forward to speak about their experiences of racism in York.

Among the speakers was a 15-year-old who described the impact of racism on her childhood – and pressed home that we are all responsible, and we all have a part to play in making a change.

‘Heartbreaking realisation’

Photograph: Alan Milner / Milner Creative

Organiser Amy Martin said: “Listening to their brave voices speak out about how York is not innocent – and how compliance and silence is not enough in destabilising systematic racism – was a heartbreaking realisation for us all.

“Until we stand up to racism, we are complicit in allowing it to continue.” 

Since the event “I’ve had dozens of people get in touch via social media and email, wanting to know what the next steps are,” Amy said.

A website is now being created “where people of all colours and ethnic minorities can gather and talk and share stories and ask questions”.

People attending Sunday’s event had been asked to wear masks and observe social distancing rules

“The police were very supportive and told us they would stick around for our own safety but that they supported the message and were happy for us to be there,” Amy said.

She added: “We don’t want it to stop here with one protest. We want to learn more, share more, feel more in touch with one another.

“We want to listen to each other and hear each other properly.”

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