Hundreds of people have gathered in south London for the seventh Afrikan Emancipation Day March, after police imposed restrictions in response to plans to block traffic.
Organisers of the event had planned to shut down a major road through the centre of Brixton in protest against a lack of action on the issue of reparations for slavery.
A coalition of groups including Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March Committee, Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, and Extinction Rebellion had said they would block the A23 Brixton Road from Max Roach Park to Windrush Square and occupy the area for the day.
On Friday Scotland Yard said that, while the majority of attendees would be congregating for a “family-friendly, socially distanced day of activities and learning”, it was imposing an 8pm curfew and other restrictions on the event.
The event marks the passing 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act, which came into force on 1 August 1834.
Campaigners argue that the millions of pounds in compensation paid to former slaveholders as a result of the Act, without similar recompense for freed slaveholders, cemented and increased racial injustices that are still felt today.
On Saturday afternoon crowds of people listened to music in Windrush Square in Brixton while a group of police officers stood nearby.
A short distance away, another group observed speeches before a three-minute silence was held to mark Afrikan Emancipation Day.
Three people – holding signs saying “mask up” and wearing visors – handed out face masks and hand sanitiser to those attending.
A number of demonstrators temporarily blocked Brixton Road at the junction with Acre Lane, forcing cars and buses to stop and turn around.
Protesters, including some from Extinction Rebellion, occupied the middle of the junction.
But they moved shortly after police told them to get back onto the curb.
Protesters soon began marching down Brixton Road towards Max Roach Park, blocking the road and stopping traffic.
Antoinette Harrison, who lives in nearby Clapham, attended the event to march with her cousin and her cousin’s children.
On why she joined the event, the 38-year-old said: “We are tired. And I was just saying, our parents have gone through, we’re going through this, and I don’t want our next generation to. It’s got to come to an end.”
She added: “What’s lovely about it is there’s such unity.
“It’s not just the one race, like it was back in the day, now it’s whites, blacks, Hispanics – everyone.”
Asked if she had any concerns about coronavirus while attending, Ms Harrison, who has been protesting since earlier in the summer, said: “This is a pandemic – racism and not having justice.”