|Protesters in Henley-on-Thames|
Wednesday 10 June 2020
The Black Lives Matter protest came to the small market town of Henley yesterday, a mark of how widespread the movement has become. We were late to the protest - only hearing about it by chance - but managed to make the tail-end, joining a crowd of students, families and older couples in the main square.
There was a small police presence (a rare sight in our law-abiding town). Earlier, I was told, the officers had shown solidarity with the crowd by kneeling in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds - a tribute to George Floyd, whose neck was knelt on by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis, for the same duration of time. Long enough for George Floyd to plead for his mother and long enough for him to die from asphyxiation.
Wednesday 1 October 2014
Notes from the Henley Literary Festival...
Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon, made a startling observation at the Henley Literary Festival this week. She believes that police reforms are not being implemented and that the force is still guilty of racism. "Senior officers get what we need to do," she told the audience. "But somehow that is not being transferred to officers on the ground."
To prove her point, she shared a story about a young black man being arrested at London Bridge, just as she happened to reach the station platform. A group of white officers were kneeling on the young man, who also had his arms held behind his back. Baroness Lawrence decided to intervene and warned one of the officers: "He could die from that, you know." The officer, who clearly did not recognise her, replied: "It happens."
It has been more than 20 years since Baroness Lawrence's son Stephen was murdered in 1993 in London by a gang of white youths. Right from the beginning, the Lawrences were aware that the police were not taking the case seriously enough. "We were treated by the police as if we were perpetrators, not victims," she said. The force seemed more interested in investigating the Lawrence family and their friends, rather than pursuing leads to track down Stephen's attackers.