The Black Lives Solidarity Rally this afternoon, June 13th, saw hundreds of demonstrators gather in the 2/28 Peace Park in Taipei. The rally was held in solidarity with all those demonstrating in the United States and around the world. Many demonstrators were from the expat community in Taiwan and the rally was held in English and Mandarin.
Demonstrations like these have popped up all over the world showing support for Black Lives Matter sparked by the killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others. Speakers at the rally read off a list of names of people killed by the police in the United States, urging all to “Say Your Names”.
Musical performances, spoken word, and moments of silence were observed at the rally. Speakers gave insight into the systemic racism in the United states, higher incarceration rates for African Americans, reduced educational opportunities and more. They also touched on discrimination against aboriginals in Taiwan.
One moment of silence observed was for 8:46. This was the amount of time Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd. Another moment was taking a knee in a show of protest against police brutality.
There was a police presence at the rally, notably without riot gear or excessive numbers. They felt like peacekeepers and observers of a peaceful demonstration. Freedom of speech was well represented in Taiwan today.
Organizers made it clear ahead of time that this was not a political rally. So foreigners didn’t have to worry about getting in any sort of trouble for joining the rally.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic large gatherings have been restricted in Taipei. Last week saw the easing of some of those restrictions, particularly for gatherings over 500 people in outdoor spaces. Taiwan has seen only 443 cases and 7 deaths, and has gone 2 months without a local transmission, meeting the requirements for easing of restrictions. Organizers said they had the required permits from the police for the rally.
Something that struck me at the end of the rally was when the speaker asked us to tell the person standing next to us what we were going to do, a concrete action we were going to take, after today. Immediately a conversation was sparked. A conversation that hopefully moved people to act even if in just a small way.