A large group of people gathered at Victoria’s Centennial Square Friday, saying they came together to ensure that the names and lives lost due to systemic racism are not forgotten.
The people-less anti-racism protest set up by Black and people of colour (POC) youth earlier this week was torn down Thursday but the group came back in greater numbers on Friday to put back up the display.
The display consists of names of Black and Indigenous victims in both the U.S. and Canada on signs around the fountain in Centennial Square.
“It shows that our community is stronger than this one individual or group of individuals who thought that there was no value in putting up these posters and it shows that our community truly cares about the Black Lives Matter movement.” said one of the event’s organizer’s, Agartu Ali.
The site is not only a memorial but is also aimed to serve as a reminder of the racism that still exists in Canada.
“People try to hide behind the multicultural facad that we have and in reality that’s just not the case.” said another organizer Salma Arale.
Around the country, more and more rallies are taking place after a video showed a white Minneapolis officer kneeling on the neck of a Black man, George Floyd for nearly nine minutes, even as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd fell still and died, the officer’s knee still on him.
On Friday, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders took a knee in solidarity with those rallying. In Victoria, Victoria Police Chief Del Manak promised continued accountability.
“I’m proud to say that the Victoria Police Department stands behind a high level of accountability and transparency. When we have incidents that show up we’re there to stand up, answer, justify what we’re doing,” said Manak.
On Sunday a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally will take place in Victoria. Chief Manak says he’ll be there not as an officer, but as a supporting citizen.
“As a visible minority police chief and somebody who has actually been on the receiving end of racism and discrimination and hate just to say that I do understand what the motive is and why this rally needs to happen,” Manak said.
And Victoria isn’t the only Vancouver Island rally scheduled. On Friday afternoon, people gathered in Nanaimo, and Saturday they’ll do the same in Campbell River. And on the Lower Mainland a rally was held in Vancouver late Friday afternoon.