More than 200 attend peaceful Black Lives Matter event in Clitheroe

More than 200 people attended a peaceful event in Clitheroe Castle gardens, supporting the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

Clitheroe Royal Grammar School student Eve Whittle, who organised the event, said the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has raised the issue of racial inequality to the forefront of politics.

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans was invited to attend the event but declined to do so, instead meeting with Eve in the morning.

At the event, Eve asked that Mr Evans speak out on the issue of racism, an issue he has never raised in the House of Commons.

Participants hold placards supporting the movement

Participants were socially distanced within the Castle gardens, many displaying homemade signs.

Chantelle Seddon, Liberal Democrat candidate at the general election raised the fact if people take one thing away from these demonstrations she hopes it would be that by staying silent, by staying neutral you help maintain the status quo. Every person needs to make the choice to actively end prejudice.

She said: "Tolerating differences of opinion is a critical element of a free society and in many issues, there is room for healthy debate. Racism isn't one of them. It is wrong."

Giles Bridge, local Labour Party chairman, called on those attending to challenge racism and "o be the change that you want to see."

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Some of the young people attending the event in Clitheroe

Whalley resident Benjamin Anthony spoke powerfully about his experience as a person of colour in the Ribble Valley and the overt and direct racism he has been subjected to.

Ben’s message was that we need to share experiences and respect one another.

He said: "The job now is not to extend the divide, it’s to bridge the gap and we do that by coming from a place of understanding and patience. Teach, educate and understand, let’s unify as one people."

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All those present observed a very moving silence of eight minutes and 46 seconds, most by ‘bending the knee’, to mark the time that George Floyd’s neck was held down by the police officer. Speaking of the event, Eve thanked those who attended and acted in a very respectful and dignified manner.

She said: "It was an incredible show of solidarity and respect for the Black Lives Matter movement. I am proud to have been a part of this event and this town as we illustrated that a small town doesn’t need to have a small voice."