Black Lives Matter: More than 1,000 march in Manx protest

By Sadhbh O'Shea
BBC News, Douglas

Isle of Man Black Lives Matter protest
Image caption,
Protesters were silent for much of the demonstration

More than 1,000 people have taken part in a Black Lives Matter protest march on the Isle of Man.

The protesters, who observed social distancing, marched on Douglas seafront before kneeling in silence.

Demonstrations have been held globally following the death of American George Floyd in police custody in May.

Organiser Benard Mensah said it had "burst" the idea the island was racism-free and he hoped it would be start more open discussions about race.

Image caption,
Social distancing measures were put in place for the protest

Members of the public had been asked to submit their own experiences with racism prior to the event and several testimonies were read out by organisers following the march.

The kneeling tribute to Mr Floyd lasted just under nine minutes, the length of time a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on the 46-year-old's neck while he was pinned to the floor.

'Enough is enough'

Mr Mensah, who is originally from Ghana, said racism on the island was "an issue that needs to be addressed".

"I have had racism myself and it makes you really uncomfortable," he said.

Jordan, who took part in the protest, said he was pleased to see such a large turnout, which showed the island "was aware there was a desperate need for change".

Image caption,
Over 1,000 people attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Douglas

On Monday, Chief Minister Howard Quayle said he and the government "support the Black Lives Matter gathering", but asked people to be mindful as the island was "in the middle of a coronavirus outbreak".

There are no known active cases of the virus on the island, but lockdown restrictions currently only permit gatherings of up to 10 people outside.

The protesters were spread out across the promenade in Douglas and most wore facemasks.

Chief Constable Gary Roberts offered his support to the demonstration, stating that protesting was "a fundamental human right" and "we have to show that enough is enough".

Image caption,
Many young people joined the protest