PEOPLE in Skipton and Malham have been taking part in Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

They have joined millions of people across the world calling for an end to racial repression and to bring about change, while being careful to maintain social distancing.

In Skipton, protests have been held outside the town hall and outside the council offices in Belle Vue Square for the last four weeks, while in Malham, residents staged a protest on the banks of Malham Beck at the weekend and put up messages of support in their windows.

Business owner, Yesmien Bagh Ali, who has taken part in all of the Skipton events, said members from both white and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities had taken part.

“We had local BAME members including myself speak about the issues we face in our town and when out about in other areas. I shared my personal journey, the workshops I offer and the impact and dialogues that are created to prevent prejudice in our school settings.”

She has been delivering cultural and diversity workshops since 2007, exploring the issues that spawn racism in schools in North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumbria, but says much still needs to be done.

“Schools and organisation believe we have no problem but when I hear local 15 year old, BAME pupils, sharing racist experiences and saying ‘I am fed up I don’t want to go back to school’. We must not ignore this.

“There is institutional racism and the first step one can take is to understand, create a safe environment to start the conversation. It’s not enough to be ‘not racist’ we need to change our attitudes and be ‘anti racist,” she said.

In Malham, a post about the weekend event on social media raised discussion amongst residents.

Naomi Howlett who organised the event, said: “We support a world where everyone is equal, where everyone is treated the same and receives the same opportunities regardless of ethnicity.

“Unfortunately, this is not the case here in the UK, systemic racism is still prevalent throughout our society and the oppression of people of colour is still very prevalent.”

She added: “Take a second and think about two houses, one is on fire. Which house should you help? You would never say all houses matter so we can’t help the one on fire. This is why ‘All lives cannot matter until black lives matter ‘ - , until the oppression black people face is heard and dealt with.”

The Malham group is calling on people to be actively anti-racist and to confront racial injustice, even if it might be uncomfortable.

See Letters to the Editor.