Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Prosecution Threats Against Black Lives Matter Protesters – Derry, Belfast June 6 2020

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Disgraceful events in Belfast and Derry – resistance is stepped up.

The originators of a statement supporting Black Lives Matter have condemned the Derry Journal for refusing to print a paid advert for the statement in today’s issue.

Dermie McClenaghan, Bernadette McAliskey, Eamonn McCann and Kate Nash, said that they were “deeply disappointed” at the paper’s decision.

They point out that the statement had already been published in full in a paid advert in the Derry News.

The signatories went on: “The statement condemned police action at the BLM protest in Derry on June 6 and was critical of some local interests which had called for the protest to be abandoned. We supported the decision of the BAME community in Derry to go ahead with the protest. We reiterate that support.

Censorship in the Six County State, Ireland

“There are two pandemics ravaging the world – Covid-19 and racism. The anti-racist demonstrations in Derry and in Belfast were meticulously arranged to meet public health requirements. In Derry, the PSNI operation – as if for a major riot – made the arrangements difficult to uphold.

“There were 15 fines or notices of prosecutions handed out Belfast, compared to 57 fines and prosecution threats in Derry.

“All over the world, people of integrity have had to balance the need to combat Covid-19 with the need to fight racism.

“We call for the immediate withdrawal of threats of prosecution against the organisers of the Black Lives Matter solidarity demonstration in Guildhall Square, Derry and Custom House Square, Belfast on Saturday June 6.

“The decisive voice in striking this balance has to be the voice of those who bear the brunt of racism. We said in one of the passages in the statement which the Journal wanted cut: ‘Nobody has a right to set a limit to the struggle of black people for freedom and equality.’

“That applies to business people in Derry as much as to politicians in the US.

“We do not believe there was any credible legal or journalistic reason for the rejection of our statement.

“We are aware that the decision to refuse to print the statement will not have been made by journalists at the Derry Journal but by management and lawyers,” the four concluded.


The text of the advert submitted to the Journal is set out here:

“We call for the immediate withdrawal of threats of prosecution against the organisers of the Black Lives Matter solidarity demonstration in Guildhall Square, Derry and Custom House Square, Belfast on Saturday June 6.

“The socially-responsible nature of the gathering was a tribute to the young, mainly black Derry people who arranged the protest.

“The PSNI, who showed no apparent interest in casual gatherings of scores of people on beaches and elsewhere during the recent good weather, were instantly into action, stopping and checking everybody who arrived at the Square, then moving in to confront protesters individually with notifications of fines and threats of court action.

“These events were not entirely novel in Derry. They harked back half a century. This was a civil rights demonstration. Now, as then, the organisers were condemned in advance as irresponsible by a range of local interests, some of whom simultaneously proclaimed their support for the aims and objectives of the protest.

“We have heard that one before – ‘We totally support your fight for justice, but wrong time, wrong place, not here, not now.’

“Black people have been listening to stuff like this for far longer than any section of white citizens.

“Nobody has a right to set a limit to the struggle of black people for freedom and equality.

“If the PSNI or the prosecution authorities take this issue to court they should be and will be opposed every inch of the way.

“The organisers of the protest should be saluted. They are a credit to Derry.

“Kate Nash, Bernadette McAliskey, Dermie McClenaghan, Eamonn McCann.”

Find attached the version of the statement sent to the Derry Journal for paid publication.

Thousands have signed the statement here:
http://chng.it/hYGcTMMT

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