By David Winlo
On Monday evening, a group of people gathered in Anglia Square, off Magdalen Street, for a protest march through Norwich. This was part of the nationwide campaign ‘One Day Without Us’, which aims to highlight the contribution migrants make daily in the UK, as well as defending their rights and status in the country. As well as marching, there were banners and signs, and enthusiastic chanting throughout.
The chanting in particular garnered quite a response at several points during the march. A bus driver honked in rhythm with one chant, whilst other onlookers cheered and clapped for others, giving us protesters a great feeling of support. This was particularly welcome as the earlier stages of the march were not always met so warmly. At the end of the march we stopped near the marketplace, where, after some final chants, one of those leading the protest explained the importance of the protest to the onlookers.
Brexit has the potential to hurt many things: the economy, trade and other foreign relations, UK-based science, the environment, and, of course, the ability of students to put Marmite on their toast. But most importantly, after a campaign fought so unfairly and so heavily on misinformation and the human weakness of fear of ‘those who are different from us,’ it will hurt all migrants and refugees. The hate that saw a Romanian food shop in Norwich get its windows smashed and petrol-bombs thrown at it is widespread, even if it doesn’t always lead to such extreme action, it is a big problem and needs to be responded to, and dealt with, wherever it is found.
It is not too late to support migrants and refugees and make your voice heard where it isn’t already. Keep looking out for more protests to join, donate to organisations like the UN Refugee Agency and Amnesty International, support the migrants you know personally and sign e-petitions – they can work, with a good case and enough backing.
If you have experienced any hate or abuse because of where you’re from, you can contact the Norwich Nightline on 01603 597158, UEA security on 01603 456161 and of course you should tell your friends if you feel comfortable.
The protest has shown me that UEA and Norwich are welcoming places, and there will always be a friendly person to listen to you should you need it.
Image Courtesy of Natalie Froome