Watch demonstrators talk about confronting history, unteaching racism, and taking part in the global anti-racism movement
Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder May 25 quickly spread from cities across the US to other countries worldwide. In cities in Europe and the UK, for example, demonstrators have gathered to show their solidarity and pay tribute to Floyd, as well as Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and victims of police brutality in their own countries.
One of the largest protests outside the US took place in Berlin on the weekend of June 6, drawing tens of thousands of anti-racism activists and allies, who wore slogans such as “I can’t breathe” and held a silence lasting eight minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd’s death in police custody. These protesters also called out racism in their home country however, holding placards that read “Germany is not innocent” and chanting: “Nazis out!”
Simultaneously, other protests took place in multiple cities across Germany, such as Munich and Hamburg, which also saw crowds of tens of thousands of people.
In 2017, a United Nations report put a spotlight on racial profiling against people of African descent in Germany, describing an “incomplete understanding of history” in the country, and stating: “The repeated denial that racial profiling does not exist in Germany by police authorities and the lack of an independent complaint mechanism at federal and state level fosters impunity.”
Even since the UN report was released, the number of reported racial discrimination cases has risen, reportedly going up by 59% between 2016 and 2019 (a rise that correlates with the rise of the right-wing AfD party).
Far-right figures and neo-Nazis have also staged their own marches and demonstrations in the country in the recent past (though these haven’t gone without opposition from many residents), and Saxony’s intelligence services estimated that there were over 23,000 right-wing extremists in Germany in 2016, according to the BBC.
There is some good news for the German anti-racism effort though, at least in Berlin itself. June 4, Berlin became the first state in the country to pass a broad anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, beliefs, age, and more among state authorities.
In this video – directed by Olive Duran and Carys Huws – some of those present at the Berlin demonstrations reflect on the global effort, as well as what it means in Germany specifically, and what remains to be done.
“A lot of German people don’t know what it’s like to live in a society where you constantly get looked at as an outsider,” one protester, Loy, tells Dazed. “I think there’s a lot of ignorance towards racism, especially in schools.”
“A lot of the kids that I’m in class with, they look at racism as an issue that is in the past.”
“Racism is taught. It can be untaught too,” adds Eleku. “But it needs to start in the education system.”
Other activists talk on the importance of non-Black allyship, and of speaking out during the current moment, in which Black Lives Matter has gained huge support and visibility across the world, both online and IRL. “It is very important that you start opening your mouth,” says Miriam, another protester. “Because it is the right time for it.”
In the US, the Black Lives Matter protests, which have erupted in all 50 states, have – in some cases – led to actual change, such as the repeal of New York’s statute 50-a, a law that conceals the personnel and disciplinary records of police officers from public view. Activists in the US and the UK have also targeted monuments to racist historical figures, often leading to their removal after years of criticism.
Directed by Olive Duran and Carys Huws
Producers: Georgie Daley, Vanessa Hsieh
Executive Producer: Anna Cafolla
Head of Content: Ahmad Swaid
Interviews: Olive Duran
Camera Operator and Editor: Carys Huws
Second Camera: Daan Dam
Drone Footage: Tom Weasley
Additional Camera: Clément Vermeulen
Colour Grade: Delfina Mayer
Translations: Caroline Whiteley
Sound Recordist: Agostina Cerdan
Sound Editor and Mix Engineer: Felix Godden at Cascade Berlin
Music: Intranet by Yung Kartz
Equipment Rental: Delight Rent