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Thousands attend #BlackLivesMatter march in Leeds

BLACK LIVES MATTER: The march gets underway in Leeds

THE SISTER of a man who choked to death in a police station 18 years ago opened proceedings at a Black Lives Matter march in Leeds last night (July 14).

"We have a duty to fight for our freedom, we have a duty to win. We have a duty to support and love one another, we have nothing to lose but our chains," Janet Alder told the heaving crowd gathered outside Leeds Art Gallery.

Over 1,000 protestors then began marching through the city, firstly heading through the business district, then past various leeds landmarks such as the train station, the trinity shopping centre, the BBC building, West Yorkshire Playhouse and the town hall.

THE BEGINNING: Crowds outside Leeds Art Gallery

Traffic was brought traffic to a standstill on main roads such as the Headrow, Eastgate, Park Row & Briggate as the crowd held signs and banners and placards with quotes from the likes of Bob Marley, Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X.

One read, “Freedom is not given it is taken”, while another read, “to serve and protect, not to kill and neglect.”

The march, and many like it around the UK, comes after the police killing of two black men in the United States.

Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old father was fatally shot by police in Baton Rogue, Louisana, on Tuesday (July 5). He had reportedly been selling CDs outside of a petrol station.

A day later, 32-year-old Philando Castile was fatally wounded in his car by an officer who believed he was reaching for a gun.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who livestreamed the bloody aftermath of the traffic stop gone wrong on Wednesday (July 6), claims he was wounded while reaching for his wallet. His four-year-old daughter witnessed the attack.

UNITED: Protesters walk along Boar Lane, past Trinity Centre

Their deaths and accompanying videos showing their treatment at the hands of law enforcement has caused widespread around the globe.

Speaking ahead of the march, organiser Sasha Blair told The Voice: “While we may think that because we are not in America these issues don't affect us, the truth is, this happens in the UK as well.

“We must come together to march in protest of their deaths to fight back and honour our brothers and sisters. It could have been us or our fathers, mothers, husband, wives, children or brothers or sisters. The Colour Theme is Black and Red representing Black Lives taken and blood shed across the World and we invite everyone to wear these colours to the march.”

Other speakers on the day included representatives from the Black Health Initiative (BHI), University of Leeds Student Union, Chapeltown Youth Development Centre as well as local parents and young people, among others.

REMEMBERED: Christopher Alder to death at a police station 18 years ago

Music accompanying the march included Michael Jackson's They Don't Really Care About Us, Bob Marley's Redemption Song, Nas' I Can and Kendrick Lamar's Alright.

There were also countless chants of “Black Lives Matter”, “Hands Up Don't Shoot” and “No Justice No Peace”.

“We will not rest until we see the end of racially-motivated police brutality. We demand accountability when people die in police custody.” spokesperson Marvina Newton told The Voice

"We stand in solidarity with those who have fallen here and across the world. The fight for equality is an everyday endeavour”, protestor Sophie Blake added.

Teenager Juliana Eigbe, who lives in Leeds, said “Since the EU referendum, we have seen a rise in racism and open xenophobia in Leeds and the UK. It stops today”.

CELEBRITY SUPPORT: Actor Amel Ameen stands with one of the organisers and speakers

Former professional footballer and manager if Chapeltown Junior FC Lutel James added: "We've been fighting for equality across the board. We're sick and tired of people talking about equality and it means nothing to us.

“If we don't start fighting back and start standing up and being joint in our stance, we'll never go forward. This ain't about us, ain't about the people now, it's about the next generation if young people coming through, it's about our kids and grandkids.

Young black lives are forgotten; it's up to us to take responsibility to grab it back, just like we've grabbed the city centre today."

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