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Thousands of people pack Victoria Park for Black Lives Matter rally
LONDON, ONT. -- Thousands of people gathered in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Victoria park on Saturday.
The anti-racism rally started at Victoria Park with protestors marching through Clarence Street and Wellington at 3 p.m, and ended shorty after 6 p.m on Richmond Street.
“When we are walking and we see a cop our heart just starts beating,” said Kwasi Ofosu, a protestor who was marching with his younger brother.
“What is going to happen to us, why is my heart beating, they’re [police] supposed to be protecting us not trying to destroy us or make us feel not worthy of ourselves,” says Ofosu.
The protest was peaceful except for one moment where a small group of people tried to disrupt the crowds.
The response from those involved in the march, “No violence, do not retaliate.”
The group was forced out of Victoria Park without any reported injuries.
The spokesperson of the London Black Lives Matter rally, Alexandra Kane, says the rally was in preparation for months but the message of inequality and police brutality against black people goes back centuries.
“[Racism] exists right here in London it affects me all the time,” Kane says.
“It affects me when I want to apply for a job, it affects how people view me when I cross the street…it’s starting to affect my son who is a little boy who is one-years-old and has already had racial epitaphs thrown at him,” Kane said.
Some members from London police were present at the rally but mostly stuck to the sidelines as a preventative measure.
“The London police service is committed to a safe and secure community and right now we do recognize a person’s right to freedom of expression and opinion,” said Const. Sandasha Bough.
“Our job is to make sure that it is being done safely today.”
Most people wore masks and gloves at the rally but there are criticisms surrounding the large gathering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor of London Ed Holder told CTV News that he supports the Black Lives Matter message but would be attending the rally online in order to practice physical distancing measures.
The medical officer of health for Middlesex-London Health Unit, Dr. Chris Mackie, did in fact attend the rally, but he stayed inside his car.
Kane says she understands why some people did not show up and respects their choice because of the risks of spreading COVID-19, but adds that racism is a pandemic in itself.
“Movement is greater than anything I could imagine. I think we joined the world in what we are feeling and our passion and our motivation. This intensity in the air speaks volumes, this can’t happen anymore, I’m so glad we are here and able to join the world and say, ‘Black Lives Matter.’”