The U.S. protests that started in response to the death of George Floyd while being arrested by a Minneapolis police officer have spread across the world, to B.C. and to the town of Hope.
Saturday, around 30 people gathered in front of district hall wearing masks and carrying signs. “Stop racism. I matter,” read one. On another, the words many have been taking up during the protests, from the movement of the same name: “Black lives matter.” Organizers, putting the call out on Facebook for people to attend, stated it was to be a ‘peaceful demonstration against racism.’
“This is about opposing racism in all forms, which poses all kinds of questions, what that could entail,” said organizer Ingo Schmidt. “And I think that was very quickly tied back to…environmental questions.”
Schmidt was watching the global protests and actions over the past few weeks, and began to see that this was a moment where people may come out even locally. So he began putting the word out to Hope residents and people he knew through the weekly Fridays For Future climate action gatherings in Hope.
Saturday ended up being a great choice in hindsight, Schmidt said, as similar rallies were happening across the world on the same day.
Some of those gathered addressed the issue of privilege through their messages, including one sign that read: “My skin colour shouldn’t give me privilege, but it does. We all need to take action against systemic racism.”
“I will never understand but I stand,” read another. Schmidt, a Hope resident and lifelong activist, said this was great to see these types of messages displayed Saturday.
“It’s such a difficult thing for pale faces to recognize, that even though you might not be Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, in many ways you are privileged,” he said.
Schmidt said it is important to bring the conversation to the local level and to the kinds of racism that exists in the community.
“That was dear to Rachel (my partner) and my heart, to make that connection, that anti-racism in Hope is mostly against the racism against First Nations people,” he said.
Schmidt is thinking about gathering locals together for a walk or a march against racism June 20, and would like to connect with Indigenous people and non-white people interested in being a part of the event. “We’re hoping the momentum isn’t gone by then, one never knows. There’s only one way of finding out,” he said.