Centennial Square in downtown Victoria was the site of a massive peaceful gathering on Sunday as thousands took part in a Black Lives Matter peace rally.
According to organizers, around 9,000 people stood in the square, watched from the adjoining parkade, and spilled into neighbouring Pandora Ave to listen to Black people and People of Colour talk about their experiences of racism in Victoria and Canada.
The four hour long demonstration commenced at 4 p.m. and ended with a vigil to commemorate the lives of Black people killed by police in recent years.
This was the second protest held in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Victoria, after the initial movement last week which saw hundreds of people march to the Legislature grounds.
The grassroots movement was organized by Victoria residents Vanessa Simon, Pamphinette Buisa, and Asiyah Robinson after watching Black Lives Matter protests unfold in several cities in Canada and across the world.
“This isn’t us against you, but this is us telling you that we’re here and we’re not going anywhere… we’re not going to let anyone silence our voices any longer,” said Robinson at the event after several speakers relayed their experiences of racial discrimination perpetrated by individuals, business owners, and police right here in Victoria.
Over the past week, cities across the U.S. and several other countries have seen widespread protests against police brutality that caused the deaths of dozens of innocent Black people in recent years.
These protests were sparked after former Minneapolis PD officer Derek Chauvin killed an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes.
The movement snowballed over several days after local, state, and federal officers conducted arrests and deployed tear gas, rubber bullets, and mace on peaceful protesters as well as identifiable members of the media.
In Victoria, police maintained their distance from protesters and were only present to establish a secure perimeter and shut down a section of Pandora Ave to vehicle traffic for the duration of the rally.
Major turnout at Centennial Square for the second #BlackLivesMatter peace rally in Victoria #yyj
Almost everyone wearing masks, organizers handing out masks to those who don’t have one.
Pandora Ave from Douglas to Govt closed to vehicle traffic @victoriabuzzes pic.twitter.com/c9pbLtYiNN
— Brishti Basu (@brish_ti) June 7, 2020
The majority of attendees wore non-medical masks, while organizers handed out additional masks to those who did not bring one.
As a call to action, speakers took the stage to encourage everyone gathered to speak up against racism whenever they see acts of discrimination in their everyday lives.
For those who could not be in attendance, here are 16 photos from the event: