Hatfield protesters take the knee for George Floyd despite downpour
PUBLISHED: 15:13 29 June 2020 | UPDATED: 17:29 29 June 2020
Regardless of the rain, peaceful protesters in Hatfield knelt on a wet field for the length of time that George Floyd had a knee on his neck – eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Chloe Matthew, who set up Welwyn Hatfield Black Lives Matter along with Callum Davidson and others, said in Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City its about tackling “micro aggressions” that people from BAME backgrounds face.
The 27-year-old moved from London to Welwyn Garden City when she was a teenager and has noticed the complete change in the education system when learning about colonialism and black history.
“People think racism is a problem in America but not here.”
She explained, when she was in school in Welwyn Garden City, her teacher said its perfectly okay to use the “‘ne’ word but not the ‘ni’ word” to describe black people.
“This just seemed crazy to me,” she said. “My mum wasn’t happy and she brought it up with the headteacher.”
“And the teacher broke down and said she didn’t realise what she was saying.”
Callum, also 27 and living in Welwyn Garden City with a child who lives in Hatfield, explained: “There is a push back here from white people when you raise racism.
“And there is a casual racism when people use the n-word without thinking about it and just for a laugh.”
Both Callum and Chloe hope raising the issue of black lives will help change peoples minds locally and foster a sense of community spirit.
“I always though Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield were multicultural towns in a multicultural country,” Callum said.
The protest at the fields behind Birchwood Leisure Centre also had Caribbean food and music and people were asked to wear masks, not drink alcohol and observe social distancing guidelines.
Welwyn Hatfield Black Lives Matter, which has already protested in Welwyn Garden City, plans to organise more events in the borough but did recently cancel a planned protest at Stanborough Park.
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