Speakers honoured the memory of Stephen Lawrence and his mother’s efforts against institutionalised racismGeorgia Goble

Content Note: This article contains discussion of police violence and racism.

A protest organised by Movement Against Racism today (24/04), which opposed the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and acknowledged Stephen Lawrence Day on Thursday (22/04), was attended by approximately 70 Cambridge residents.

Protesters marched through Parkers’ Piece and towards King’s Parade, where there were several speakers. Several individuals also ‘took the knee’, a symbolic gesture that has been linked with the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Safiya Mawusi, one of the founders of the Movement Against Racism organisation, told Varsity: “This is the first protest we’ve done in 2021… we wanted to pick up momentum again, [and] refresh people’s memories.”

Chants from protesters included “kill the bill”, “no justice no peace, no racist police”, and “black lives matter”, while others played a drum.

They also chanted the names of Stephen Lawrence, who was killed by a gang in April 1993, and Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in March 2020.

Comments from speakers included accounts of personal experiences of racism in their workplace and local communities, while one speaker listed the names of further people of colour who had been killed by police, including Sean Rigg and Adrian McDonald.

Addressing the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will “strengthen police powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament,” one speaker stated: “The police do not need any more powers, they have always had powers. Extraordinary powers means innocent people get locked up.”

Participants were asked to follow social distancing rules, and many wore masksGeorgia Goble

The bill has faced widespread criticism since it was proposed, with protests taking place in Cambridge as part of the Kill the Bill movement.

Defunding the police’, a movement which has gained attention over the last year, was described by one speaker as “a critical demand.”

At the protest, speakers made reference to the legacy of the death of Stephen Lawrence, the 18-year-old whose death sparked conversation about racism in Britain. He was killed by a gang of white men in an “unprovoked racist attack” in 1993. Although the suspects in the case were initially acquitted, two men were convicted of Lawrence’s murder in January 2012. The Metropolitan police faced criticism at the time for failing to make any arrests during the first two weeks of their investigation.

Speakers acknowledged the campaigning efforts of Lawrence’s mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, after his death, and pointed out the importance of the broader conversation around institutional racism.


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Discussion of the recent trial of Derek Chauvin in the US also took place. The trial found the former police officer guilty on three counts in the death of George Floyd, including second-degree murder. They welcomed the guilty verdict, but reiterated that more still had to be done to address systemic racism.

One speaker also criticised the government’s recent report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which declared that the UK should be “a model for other white-majority countries.”

Another anonymous protester told Varsity referred to supporting the cause as an act of “general human decency and compassion.”

“I’m a queer person and black people and people of colour have done so much for the queer community, especially black, trans people of colour like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. They were head of the gay liberation movement and they were there at Stonewall; I have my rights because of them, I owe them, I’m here protesting because I owe them.”