Highlanders stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter movement

Tanith Munro led the Black Lives Matter walks held in Portree on Sunday. Photo credit: Michael Brady – https://www.instagram.com/go_before_you_dont/

People across the Highlands showed their solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement by holding events to express a strong and unified stance against racism.

On Skye, protests were held in Portree and near Dunltulm Castle in the north end of the island on Sunday.

At the same time, people in Ullapool also underlined their unity to the cause which has gained unprecedented support worldwide since the death of George Floyd.

Derek Chauvin, a white policeman, stands accused of the murder of George Floyd.

The policeman knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, while arresting him in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 25th May, leaving Mr. Floyd unable to breathe.

Speaking to the Free Press ahead of Sunday’s event in Portree Tanith Munro – organiser of the Black Lives Matter walks in the Skye capital – said George Floyd’s death had moved her to do something on a local level. (Full interview below)

However, rather than encouraging protesters to congregate, which could break social distancing rules, she asked people to show their support by displaying signs and banners during their daily walk from 2 pm that day.

Just after 2 pm, some of those taking part in the walks made their way down to Somerled Square where they stopped briefly using the empty car park spaces as a grid to stand together while social distancing themselves.

Portree walk photos by Adam Gordon.

Speaking today Tanith said: “I was really pleased with yesterday’s walk. It was great to see people taking part in such an enthusiastic and responsible way. I felt it was important to highlight our community’s support of this movement.

“I believe that we are all obligated to do what we can when we can to keep the momentum of this movement going until we can see visible change, both politically and socially.”

In north Skye, a socially distanced protest – organised by Kilmuir resident Hector MacLeod – took place at Score Bay.

Those present knelt in silence for 8 minutes 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd and displayed signs in support of Black Lives Matter.

A silent protest was held for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Photo credit: Hector MacLeodFacebook.
Photo credit: Hector MacLeod/Facebook.

Meanwhile in Ullapool, walks – which had inspired the protests in Portree – took place on Sunday afternoon with local residents also displaying banners and signs to show their backing for Black Lives Matter.

Protesters placed their signs in the centre of town while adhering to social distancing.

Ullapool photos by Sigi Whittle.

Artist Cathy Holms highlighted the injustices faced by black and ethnic minorities every day in the UK by painting a series of 100 pebbles.

The pebbles bore the names of 100 people from BAME, refugee, and migrant communities who have died across the UK between 1991-2014 in suspicious circumstances in which the police, prison authorities, or immigration detention officers have been implicated.

Ama Sumani was a terminally ill cancer patient who was forcibly taken from her hospital bed and deported to Ghana.
The pebbles were placed along Shore Street.

“Ullapool walks with Black Lives Matters came about in an attempt to show that support for the movement is global and we are not exempt from being actively anti-racist,” organiser Sigi Whittle told the Free Press.

“Often when you come from a small village or town you feel that activism is an arm’s-length activity. One you cannot truly participate in unless you live in Edinburgh, Glasgow or London, etc.

“However, geographical location doesn’t and shouldn’t come into it and every contribution is important.

“Yesterday’s event was evidence of the strength of our community with locals both showing their support and also contributing with beautiful artwork and activism.

“I hope that this event sparks change in residents and that from now on we begin and continue to educate ourselves on the matter – both on our past mistakes and how we can change for the better.”

The events in Skye and Ullapool were part of a number of protests which took place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness, and across the UK.