I’m not outside

I’m not outside.

Right now, a mass of people are in Centenary Square in Birmingham.

They’ll currently be chanting. Then there’s music and speeches and poetry and a lie-down. I’m not there. I wish I was there.

This is part of the Black Lives Matter protests going on around the world, because again a black man was murdered by police. His name was George Floyd. That was in Minneapolis; a couple of months ago Breonna Taylor, a black woman, was shot eight times by police in Louisville. Here in the UK black and minority ethnicity people die in police custody twice as much as others.

It’s 31 years to the day since the Tiananmen Square protests in China in which a man stood in front of a tank, and then he disappeared. Nobody even knows his name, or what happened to him.

The protests in Birmingham today won’t miss one individual voice, mine. And the world doesn’t need the opinion of one more white guy on what should be done about all this, about the world crashing down around our ears; better that I listen and support. I can’t go outside, because I’m immunocompromised. The government seems to flip-flop on whether it’s OK for shielding people to go out or not, but in a world where there are more UK deaths from the virus than the rest of the EU put together, where as of today nearly forty thousand people have died in this country — not been inconvenienced, not caught the flu and recovered, died, a count over half that of UK civilian deaths in World War 2 except this happened in half a year — in that world, I’m frightened of being in a large crowd, masks and social distancing or not. But the crowd are right. The city is right. When some Birmingham council worker painted over an I Can’t Breathe emblem, causing the council to claim there was no political motive behind that (tip for you: I’m sure there’s no council policy to do it, and they’ve unreservedly apologised, but whichever worker did it sure as hell had a political motive), that emblem was back in 24 hours, and in three other places around the city too. Good one, Birmingham.

Protestors in Centenary Square today

There are apparently two thousand of you. I can hear the noise from the window, and it’s wonderful. Shout for me too. Wish I could be there with you.

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