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George Floyd: Silent protest planned for Deal seafront roundabout to focus on Black Lives Matter message

A silent and peaceful gathering will mourn the death of American George Floyd and protest against racial injustice.

Barman and waiter Lewis Foord has organised the socially distanced memorial at Deal Seafront tomorrow as a poignant reminder of how the 46 year-old was killed.

Lewis Foord wants more people to understand white privilege and the Black Lives Matter movement
Lewis Foord wants more people to understand white privilege and the Black Lives Matter movement

The Deal action follows #Blacklivesmatter protests around the world since Mr Floyd's death on May 25.

A video of the incident went viral showing Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd's throat until he lost consciousness despite pleas from Mr Floyd that he could not breathe.

It ignited outrage and Mr Chauvin has been charged with murder after a post mortem declared the death was homicide on June 2.

Mr Foord, 25, who works at The Lane in Deal, said: "Those present will stand on and around the roundabout in Beach Street from noon.

"At 1pm we will kneel down on one knee for eight minutes 46 seconds to represent the amount of time Mr Floyd was knelt on by the police officer."

The #Blacklivesmatter protest will be held on the roundabout by Lewis Foord and friends to ensure social distancing is upheld. Picture Google Maps
The #Blacklivesmatter protest will be held on the roundabout by Lewis Foord and friends to ensure social distancing is upheld. Picture Google Maps

The freelance art director in films, said: "It's some symbolism so people in the area know how long he was on the ground for.

"We want to stop our small towns being silent in times where they need to speak up. This issue isn’t isolated and it is not just in America."

The majority of Black Lives Matter demonstrations over the past eight days have been peaceful, but some have descended into violence and rioting and criticisms because social distancing has not been upheld.

Mr Foord says he's making efforts to ensure tomorrow's demo remains socially distanced which is why they are staging it on the roundabout - to allow safe and distanced movement to continue along the promenade.

Others who want to join must observe this and position themselves so nobody is put at risk, he said.

They will remain silent throughout to demonstrate their slogan "White silence = violence"

Mr Foord grew up in Broadstairs and moved to Deal a few years ago - an upbringing he describes as within "a very white community."

Of his time attending the Charles Dickens School he recalls just three or four people of colour.

"It wasn't something you really thought about and the education system didn't teach me much about race in our country."

He admits his motivation comes from being "ignorant" to these issues before.

A banner called for justice for George Floyd on the A256 at Sandwich which had been put up anonymously earlier this week
A banner called for justice for George Floyd on the A256 at Sandwich which had been put up anonymously earlier this week

"A lot of people in these small towns and villages are able to switch of to this issue, but it is everywhere.

"It was only recently that I educated myself on the matter of white privilege and I want to help educate myself and others.

"It takes some uncomfortable conversations with friends and family.

"It seems like many people have someone in their friends or family who say all lives matter. But it takes for this life (George Floyd's) to matter before it can be all lives matter."

"We need to include Black Lives Matter into All Lives Matter because without them it doesn't mean anything.

Another George Floyd protest allowed the community to come together in Fort Gardens, Gravesend
Another George Floyd protest allowed the community to come together in Fort Gardens, Gravesend

"This has been somethingthat has been going on forever, since the days of slavery and even though those people were liberated, racism is still prevalent.

"People of colour are supposed to be free, but how can that be so if they're afraid of their police?"

Mr Floyd, known as Big Floyd, had tested positive for Covid-19, this week's post mortem confirmed.

The BBC reported that yesterday (Thursday) a lawyer told a memorial service that it was not the pandemic that killed him. It was the "pandemic of racism".

Mourners there adopted the slogan "get your knee off our necks".

Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with second degree murder is due to appear in court on Monday.

Also yesterday three police officers charged with aiding and abetting Mr Floyd's murder made their first appearance in court and bail was set.

The #Blacklivesmatter campaign is a movement to fight for freedom, liberation and justice.

It was founded in July 2013 after George Zimmerman's acquittal for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Mr Foord added: "I used to think that white privilege was an attack. It's not an attack on me or anyone else but it's saying the colour of your skin has not added to the difficulties in your life.

He will use tomorrow's protest for a cinematography project but says: "I don't want this to be about me. Black voices need amplifying, White voices should be there to hold the microphone."

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