Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Black Lives Matter

The University of Manchester made Social Responsibility one of its 3 main strategic goals, alongside research and teaching. I am here to learn about that in an event organised by the University Social Responsibility Network.  Last evening, when the program is over, I went out of the hotel around 8:45 PM to run a few kilometres before it gets dark.  I was immediately confronted by a big crowd marching and chanting up Oxford Street from the south.  

At first, I wasn’t sure whether I should stay away.  As I watched from the distance, the marchers seem peaceful even though I could not make out what they were saying.  There also seemed to be just a few police officers around and they did not look tense or threatening.  So I walked along the marchers a bit.  

It turns out it was a “Black Lives Matter” march.  They were protesting against police brutality, apparently triggered by the recent killings in the USA.  Some of the marchers seemed angry, shouting repeatedly demanding justice, stop to the killing, etc.  But there were no violence and the marchers were orderly.  The buses and cars stopped, the marchers passed, and the traffic resumed.  There were probably several thousand people, certainly more than just hundreds. 

There was one thing that was a little disturbing.  Some marchers were holding a banner demanding the release of Munir Farooqi.  The newspaper described him as a “former Taliban fighter given 4 life sentences for trying to recruit people to fight in Afghanistan.”  But some people claim that he was just trying to build bridges amount communities.  

The University of Manchester has 30,000+ students.  More than 10,000 are foreign students.  Among the British students, however, many are ethnically Chinese, South Asians, Africans, Arabs, …  Diversity is celebrated in the university.  The majority of the marchers were black.  But there were quite a few whites.  I saw no Chinese as far as I could tell.  In this society, ethnic issues are a serious matter.  


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