As many as 30,000 people turned out for the March Against Racism in London in an expression of unity against a rise in racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. In the wake of Brexit last June, hate crimes spiked by almost 50 per cent across Britain.
The march was part of a string of demonstrations taking place across Europe to mark the United Nations International Anti-Racism Day, with cities such as Berlin, Vienna and Athens, as well as UK cities Cardiff and Glasgow, taking part.
Many protesters carried banners, which read, in particular, “Stand up to racism,” “Migrants and refugees are welcome here,” “No to racism” and “Stand up to Trump.” Starting in front of the BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place, the peaceful demonstration then mobilised towards Parliament Square.
There was also widespread support for the National Health Service and the many migrants who work within it. “Migrants make our NHS. Stop the scapegoating,” read a large number of placards. Tottenham MP David Lammy criticised a small group of counter-protesters – suspected to be from the English Defence League – who were also seen at the march.
“It’s the fourth year that we’ve held this demonstration now for UN anti-racism day, but we think this year is more important than ever,” said Zakariya Cochrane, assistant convener for Stand Up to Racism, which organised the event.
“We’ve had the election of Donald Trump, with his Muslim ban and the wall with Mexico. We’ve had the EU referendum, where we’ve seen the highest increase in reported hate crime in the country, showing that the scapegoating of migrants gave confidence to racists.”
The march comes a day after a report by the Trade Union Congress found that one in three black and minority ethnic Britons have been racially abused since the EU referendum, with protesters concerned that hate crimes could be set to increase again following the triggering of Article 50.
Along the Mexico-US border this weekend, 30,000 Mexicans also marched in solidarity with migrants. “Every year we proclaim peace and life. Now this year, we add to these values, solidarity with migrants,” explained Mexican bishop, Francisco Moreno Barron.
“We begin with this simple gesture on the wall that makes us aware of so many brothers who need us through these lands of the Californians and Tijuana,” he continued.