A protester had a sign which wrote "we are not trying to start a race war we are trying to end one"MARIE MEDENIS

Content note: This article contains discussions of racism and police violence

Over 100 protesters gathered on Parkers Piece this afternoon (24/10) for an End SARS rally.

Movement Against Racism and Cambridge For Black Lives Matter joined forces to organise the rally, with protesters marching across the city, ending along King's Parade. The rally was also endorsed by Cambridge SU’s BME Campaign and the Cambridge African and Caribbean Society.

The Cambridge End SARS protest joins a wave of global protests that are standing in solidarity with recent anti-brutality demonstrations in Nigeria.

The #EndSARS movement has gained momentum in Nigeria over the last month following the shooting of a man in Lagos on October 6th by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS. SARS were a controversial unit of the Nigerian Police Force dissolved on the 11th October as a result of the protests.

Chants spoken at the rally included: “End SARS”, “Buhari must go” and “All Black Lives Matter”. While protesters signs wrote slogans such as “Buhari must go” and “police is not your friend”.

A Nigerian protester talked about SARS to Varsity and said that she “could have been one of those dead bodies”. The protester detailed that she lived 5 minutes away from Lekki Toll Gate and if University had been online this year she would have been there protesting.

Protesters gathered at King's Parade for speechesMARIE MEDENIS

Samira, a University student, told Varsity that she came to “show solidarity with people experiencing injustice in the world”.

She wanted to show “Nigerian members of the university” that “their lives do matter”.

She continued: “I think that it’s important to recognise that we have a duty to spread awareness about this, even if it’s not directly affecting us”.

Similarly, another supporter, who chose to remain anonymous, detailed that they attended “to support everything” highlighting that “it’s important to support demonstrations across the world and not just in the UK”.

They stressed that “we take protesting for advantage in the western world” although “protesting might not make a huge difference, the British government needs to know that we see it [current injustices in Nigeria] and that people do care, we care.”

When asked what they hoped the outcome of the protest would be, they replied: “raising awareness… none of my housemates knew about it [End SARS], it was so far removed from Cambridge, nobody seemed to know what was going on… so coming to this protest, people are gonna be seeing what’s happening in other parts of the world that they don’t even know about.”

Organisers encouraged attendees to take action and continue to raise awareness by donating to fundraisers, using email templates to urge the British government to condemn SARS and to donate to Oxford University’s African Caribbean Society’s fundraiser.

Another protester emphasised that it’s “really important that we breathe an environment of togetherness and unity, unity for us in Cambridge with people around the world, it’s about being a human being and showing solidarity”. Similarly a different protester called on Cambridge as “one of the most educated places”, to think more about racism and to appreciate that this is a “place full of racism”, highlighted by the recent release of the End Everyday Racism report.

The protest began at Parkers Piece with supporters marching across the city to Kings ParadeMarie Medenis

Meanwhile, Eleanor, who studies at a local sixth form, explained to Varsity that she was at the demonstration “to learn more” and put her curriculum in context.

She said: “I think it’s important not to just see it on social media and disregard it.”

At the end of the march, before walking back together to Parker’s Piece, the group of protesters took the knee to the sound of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ by Sam Cooke.

There were a number of speeches during the rally, with speakers not only talking on SARS but also the Indian caste system, the erasure of free school meals through the UK half term, and the wider global Black Lives Matter movement.

Cambridge For Black Lives Matter also helped to organise the first BLM protest in Cambridge, which resulted in several thousand people marching for Black Lives Matter. The organisers of Movement Against Racism themselves continued to organise biweekly protests all throughout the summer.

The solidarity between various organisations could be seen not only through the joint effort of Cambridge For Black Lives Matter and Movement Against Racism, but also with one of the stewards at the rally explaining that she is a member of Extinction Rebellion, but found out about the rally on Instagram and decided to volunteer.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, the following information and support is available: