THE leaders of an anti-racist demonstration have told The Argus why they are taking to the streets this weekend.

The Brighton Black Lives Matter protesters are marching in the city on Saturday following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old African-American man, which has sparked worldwide protests.

Footage shows him handcuffed and held face down on the ground saying “I can’t breathe” while white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, presses his knee into his neck for almost nine minutes.

Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and three officers have now been charged with aiding and abetting him.

The Argus:

George Floyd’s death may have taken place thousands of miles away but the protesters said the racism behind it also exists closer to home.

Many of them have faced it themselves.

Organiser Kaia Allen-Bevan, 17, said she felt “angry and disgusted” by the footage of George Floyd’s death and wanted people to “come together in unity to promote change” in Brighton.

The Argus:

She said: “In the UK, there’s a long list of victims of racial injustice. But racism here is way more subtle than in the US.”

She said the racism she is subjected to is complex.

“I’m mixed race, not black, and I may be treated differently depending on who I’m with,” she explained.

“Everybody to some extent acts differently around different groups and as someone who’s mixed race I feel quite stuck.

“I often act more ‘black’ with people who are black and more accepting, and feel I have to be less so with people who might be more prejudiced.

“I think people with darker skin face more racism and I do have an element of privilege, but that doesn’t mean I don’t experience it.

“It’s often expressed in subtle racist comments, or memes and ‘jokes’ online.

“And sometimes it’s difficult to call out, because I don’t want to lose friends.”

The Argus:

Fellow organiser Adwah Perez, 19, moved to Brighton from Spain five years ago.

She said she had faced racism at school in Sussex.

“It’s played a massive part in my life,” she said. “It’s been an issue for so long, and it’s ridiculous that lives are being lost because of the colour of someone’s skin.

“Now, young people are getting involved.”

More than 2,000 people have said they will attend the Brighton Black Lives Matter protest this weekend.

The organisers expect many more will join as the message spreads.

The large number has precedent – this will not be the first such protest in Brighton.

More than 1,000 Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched through the city centre the week before last.

And at the weekend, hundreds gathered across Sussex to show their support for the movement.

Demonstrations were held in Brighton, Worthing and Shoreham alongside huge protests in London.

The Argus:

The Brighton protesters took to their knees in silence by the Palace Pier for nine minutes in memory of George Floyd.

Organiser Bud Johnston said: “The power and momentum supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is phenomenal.

“The black, Asian and minority ethnic community (Bame) is in an exceptionally delicate and sensitive time with the current spotlight over racism and injustice.

“Our solidarity walk wasn’t just about supporting the issues in America, it was about highlighting that there is work to be done in the UK also.”

He referred to figures showing that black people were ten times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people last year, and new statistics showing that people from Bame backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

He expressed his wish that Brighton could become a “pillar of acceptance and support for the Bame community and issues of racism with the same excellence it has championed the LGBT community”.

The organisers of this coming Saturday’s march have praised the “amazing turnout” at previous Black Lives Matter events and said they hope to “keep the momentum”.

They said: “The fight starts now.

“We may not live in America. We may be able to walk the streets, breathe, look, jog, be in the comfort of our own homes without being killed (the list goes on), but the UK is not innocent.

“This public demonstration will be creating history alongside people globally also responding to the black lives matter movement.

“We will be acknowledging our privileges and supporting those in America who are oppressed more so.

“We will be destroying the facade of Brighton being ‘such an accepting community’ and presenting the horrible truth of racism still lurking explicitly and subtly in the UK today.”