Activists Brittany Sitwell, 21, and Imarn Ayton, 29, (with mic) on stage during an anti-racism protest in Hyde Park on June 20, 2020 in London. Black Lives Matter protests are continuing across the UK following the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. (Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
A LEADER of Black Lives Matter protests in London demanded a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday (20) and said he had to drop his choice of a political adviser to lead a new commission looking into racial inequality.
“I have been here every day, I am the person that leads 20,000 people every protest,” Imarn Ayton, a 29-year-old actress, told Reuters as hundreds of BLM demonstrators gathered in London’s Hyde Park before their latest march.
“Everyone else seems to be in contact with me, except for Boris, so I would like a conversation.”
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in British cities since the death of African American George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last month.
Ayton said BLM demonstrators would continue to protest until the government met their demands.
“It’s that simple. We protest or you listen,” she said. “We want equality — to be treated fairly — that is all that we ask for, and for justice for those who have been harmed.”
“Munira Mirza must go”
Black Lives Matter protesters in London’s Hyde Park chant for the head of Boris Johnson’s recently announced commission looking at race inequality in Britain to step down.
Ayton said Johnson’s choice as chair of the government’s new commission on inequality, Munira Mirza, a Downing Street adviser, did not represent the BLM movement because she “does not believe in what we believe in, she’s not in line with what we believe in”.
“Boris Johnson has appointed a lady called Munira Mirza to head up our race inequality commission,” she told the crowd. “This is a woman who does not believe in institutional racism – she has argued it is more of a perception than a reality.
“So let me tell you right now, so here to make sure that everyone knows this today. Munira Mirza must go.”
Ayton urged Johnson to act immediately on the recommendations of previous inquiries in Britain into racial inequality, especially the 2017 ‘Lammy Review’ by shadow justice secretary David Lammy, who had probed disparities in the UK’s criminal justice system.
“I will never know what’s in his [Johnson] heart,” she said. “What I do know is he has responded. So what I want to do is keep that conversation going.”
The prime minister’s office did not immediately comment on Ayton’s demands.