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Sidmouth racism is 'normalised' claim

BLM group says discrimination is subtle

Last time they met in the sunshine. This time it rained on their parade. But the poor weather didn't stop a group of people from Sidmouth gathering on the seafront, socially distanced, for their second silent event supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Organisers believe racism in the East Devon town is "normalised" and that some people are subjected to subtle acts of discrimination.

Paul Ryder, one of the people who put the vigil together, said: “Following the well-attended event in June, it became evident that there is much to do in bearing witness, learning, raising awareness and challenging racism in our community. Comments on social media and letters to local newspapers underline many misunderstandings about the motivations of the BLM movement and why we come together for such events.” 

In the two months since George Floyd was killed by a police officer in the United States, a worldwide movement has generated awareness of racial discrimination. In England, premiership football and test match cricket now begins with players and officials 'taking the knee' in support of the movement. TV channels display the Black Lives Matter logo when covering the events. But not everyone responding to Radio Exe's report of the last Sidmouth event agree with peaceful vigils such as the one in Sidmouth, with many commenting on the station's Facebook page that "all lives matter" and a large number vehemently disagreeing with the Sidmouth protest and Radio Exe for covering it.

Organisers of this weekend's event in Sidmouth said. “We are alarmed about the seemingly normalised racism and micro-aggressions (a term used to describe subtle acts and words of discrimination) experienced by people living in Sidmouth, as reported in the local media. We are concerned about racism targeted towards toward both black and white people living and working in our town. This extends to some working in the NHS, the care and hospitality sector. We are aware of white European people who've experienced racism in this town, both from locals and visitors. It's not about black versus white; it's about everybody versus racism.” 

The Sidmouth BLM group say it has attracted nearly 300 members of all ages from the community who "exchange ideas and learn from one another. The group continues to grow and believe they can, over time, have a really positive impact on the wider Sidmouth community."

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