Stephen Kamara (pictured) of Black Lives Matter Kent was one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) march which attracted 300 to 400 people to Canterbury city centre on Saturday, 6 June. Kamara, 22, is an Accounting and Finance student at the University of Kent where he is also chair of the BAME Network. Neasa MacErlean spoke to him after the march.
NM How can people contact BLM Kent?
SK On Instagram at either @BLMKent or @kamsskamssy.
NM Who went on the march? I thought there were few whites — maybe 10%? And the people on the march looked mostly quite young to me – in their 20s, mainly. Is that right?
SK Actually, no. Those figures aren’t quite right. I saw a lot of residents who came up to us, and wanted to speak to us with offers of support. Most of the people on the march were younger people. I’m not sure where the older people were. We promoted the march on various social media.
NM Maybe that is why there weren’t so many older people. Older people aren’t generally so used to the social media.
NM What are the aims of BLM Kent?
SK We will be promoting BLM and black-owned businesses. We want to instigate change. We are supporting the ‘Justice for Belly Mujinga’ campaign (after Belly Mujinga, the 47-year old ticket seller at Victoria station was spat at and died of coronavirus). We also want to highlight the fact that BLM is not just an American movement. We want to discuss the issues we face in the UK — the systematic racism and the police brutality, for instance. Think of Julian Cole whose neck was broken in police custody and who is now in a wheelchair. [Describing his case, the Guardian wrote: “He was seized by door staff [at a Bedford nightclub], before police took him into custody. His neck was broken and he suffered permanent brain damage. After that: nothing. No prosecutions. In the end, three of the six police were sacked for lying about their conduct.”
We are also raising awareness. For example, black people make up 3% of the UK population and 12% of the prison population. That could be because of systematic racism and police brutality. There is racism in schools.
NM What can people in Canterbury do to help BLM?
SK Support causes that help the wellbeing of black people. Help black people get into roles so that they can make the changes that are needed and have a positive effect on society. We need to have black councillors and black Police Commissioners and black people in other roles across society.