Hundreds of Irish marched in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Dublin, Cork, and Galway, following a week of violence in the United States.
Activists gathered at the Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell Street, with over 200 gathering at Daunt Square in Cork and Eyre Square in Galway. The protesters gathered in reaction to the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, earlier this month and the murder of five police officers during a protest in Dallas, Texas, during a Black Lives Matter rally.
Black Lives Matter is a movement, started in the US, that campaigns against the racism, violence and dehumanization of black people. The protest in Dublin was organized by the Anti-Racism Network Ireland and the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland. The Workers Solidarity Movement estimated that there were 1,300 people at the rally in Dublin.
On Facebook the Anti-Racism Network wrote: “We condemn the horrific acts of violence perpetrated on a daily basis by US law enforcement against black bodies. In 2015, black males aged between 15 and 34 were five times more likely than white males of the same age to be killed by the police.”
Freddie Adetoya (26), from Blanchardstown, producers on the Unoriginal Podcast, which has followed the experiences of black people in Ireland, told the Irish Independent that it was important to show solidarity for the movement in the United States.
“With the injustices that are going on in America it’s good to show the solidarity with our fellow brothers over in the States and that we support them and understand the struggle that they’re going through,” Adetoya said.
Sorcha Hackett (32), from Tallaght, said “Stories like that resonate with people, as you can see it resonates with Irish people.”
She continued “A lot of people are moved, a lot of people are hurting, a lot of people feel it’s wrong and they don’t know what to do about it so getting together [can help].”
In Cork, over 200 people gathered in Daunt Square, on Tuesday evening. The event organizer Remi Kolawole told the Evening Echo “We wanted to hold something in Cork to show solidarity with the black community in America.”
She said “It’s about support and solidarity and identifying with the victims in the US of police brutality towards black people.”
The activists held a minutes-silence in honor of those who had died as a result of racially motivated killings. Members of the crowd held homemade placards and many activists spoke including reality TV star, a former contestant on the Voice of Ireland, Velvin Lamont.
“I’ve been here in Cork for about four years. I’m originally from Los Angeles, California so I know very well, first hand, the racial injustice and the discrimination that goes on there against black Americans,” he told the crowd.
Cork man Tom spoke to the crowd about his “good fortune” in marrying his Nigerian wife and being “blessed with four mixed race boys.” However, he said he worried about the world they are growing up in and said he does not want to live in a society “where people of color are treated as less than equal.”
The latest resurgence of Black Lives Matters protests in the United States have been triggered by the shootings of Anton Sterling and Philando Castile. Sterling was shot on July 5 while selling CDs outside a convenience store. Castile was shot in his car during a traffic stop for a broken tail light. The aftermath of his shooting was streamed live on Facebook by his partner who, along with her 4-year-old daughter, was in the car with him at the time.
Tragically a protest in Dallas organized after these shooting was the scene where arny vet Micah Johnson murdered five police officers and wounded seven others.
On Wednesday thousands of police officers and citizens attended the funerals for three of the policemen shot dead in a racially motivated ambush attack in Dallas. At the Potter’s House officers thousands mourned the loss Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer Brent Thompson, who had married a fellow officer just two weeks before last Thursday's attack.
Rick Lamb of Northside Baptist Church told the crowd “I know many of you have dealt with these things quite often.
“Today is about Brent and trying to bring some closure to this family as they finish the job that they didn't want to start, but had to start last week."
Funerals were also taking place on Wednesday for Sergeant Michael Smith, 55, and Officer Lorne Ahrens, 48, of the Dallas Police Department.
On Tuesday President Barack Obama praised the slain officers. He said “I know that Americans are struggling right now with what we’ve witnessed over the past week. First, the shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, and the protests, then the targeting of police by the shooter here — an act not just of demented violence but of racial hatred. All of it has left us wounded, and angry, and hurt. It’s as if the deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened. And although we know that such divisions are not new — though they have surely been worse in even the recent past — that offers us little comfort.”