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Gibraltar to march in solidarity for Black Lives Matter

Gibraltar is set to march in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign on America’s Independence Day this July 4.

The march organised by Mark Montegriffo is a reaction to global protests after the passing of George Floyd, a 46 year old black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The march will set off at 10am from the American War Memorial on Line Wall Road and will end at the Piazza where there will be speeches and those attending will “take the knee” – which is a symbol of fighting racism.

Mr Montegriffo told the Chronicle that the walk aims to raise awareness of the issue of racism.

“There is always an opportunity out of a callous act to do something positive,” Mr Montegriffo said.

He urged Gibraltarians to “stand up and recognise that racism exists” and they think about how racism is perpetuated locally.

Mr Montegriffo added that Gibraltar has a diverse community, but there is a need to “call out” injustices and for democracy.

“In our community there are sectors that are discriminated against,” Mr Montegriffo said.

He admitted that although perhaps not as extreme as in America where Mr Floyd was killed, there is a need to be critical of issues on a local level.

“In the protective bubble we live in, we can often ignore deep messages,” Mr Montegriffo said.

He added: “This is something we should be looking for all of the time. This is one of those moments where the public sphere has turned and it is time to harness that.”

Many of the protests in North America and elsewhere have turned violent. Mr Montegriffo urged the public that this is a peaceful walk and there will be police presence.

In reply to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Montegriffo added there will be hand sanitiser and masks available.

Local organisations have also vowed to attend the walk this Saturday.

Henry Pinna from Action for Housing will be joining the walk in a bid to raise awareness of racism and housing inequality issues.
“There is racism in Gibraltar, no doubt,” Mr Pinna said.

Mr Pinna highlighted the plight of the Moroccan workers, where many had to wait 40 years for citizenship after arriving in Gibraltar when the border closed.

He added that Gibraltarians of Moroccan descent deserve the same rights and there is a “veil of racism in Gibraltar.”

“We are not immune,” he said.

Mr Pinna said that although racism in Gibraltar is not as “draconian” as in other countries, but Gibraltar is not “guiltless” and has its “blemishes.”

He called for “equality in very sense” for everyone.

The Equality Rights Group Chairman Felix Alvarez will also join the march and said the walk highlighted a human rights issue and stressed that “regardless of race we are all equal.”

“There are a lot of points in time where Gibraltar has not got clean hands,” he said.

For Mr Alvarez, the Black Lives Matter walk is an opportunity for Gibraltar to “confront these issues and express contrition.”

Unite the Union is also supporting the initiative and its member Michael Netto echoed Gibraltar’s need to address the issue.

He said Unite is looking at racism as a labour issue and called for racial and economic equality.

“Discrimination exists everywhere, racism and inequality are at the centre of our existence,” Mr Netto said.

Highlighting that Gibraltar is not exempt from inequality, Mr Netto described how historically there have been instances of segregation and racism that took hold on the Rock over 40 years ago.

“We’ve achieved a lot, but we cannot forget our history.”

He added that injustices occur everywhere in the world, but it is up to us on how we treat people on an institutional and individual basis.

UK Unite General secretary Len McCluskey has called for members to stand in solidarity with those protesting.

“Unite stands in solidarity with all those protesting in response to the senseless murder of George Floyd, and the appalling racism both here and across the world… Unite members stand shoulder to shoulder with our brother and sisters in American, who feel anger, frustration and hurt over the events of recent days,” Mr McCluskey said.

The Black Lives Matter Solidarity March will take place on July 4 at 10am from the American War Memorial on Line Wall Road.

AMENDMENT: This article has been amended as the organisers have changed the end point of the march. Previously the walk was meant to end at Commonwealth Park. Now the march will end at the Piazza.