Council leader John Alexander believes the thousands who engaged with a planned protest against racism in Dundee shows there is appetite for change in the city.
The demonstration, which has now been postponed due to fears over the coronavirus pandemic, was expected to attract around 2,000 people after it was arranged by activist Joy Gansh. it had been sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black American, in police custody in Minnesota.
Hundreds of protests have taken place across the world since the incident almost a fortnight ago, with the Black lives Matter movement continuing to gather pace.
Mr Alexander believes it can only be seen as positive that so many are engaging and learning more about racism.
Following the incident last week, demonstrations have taken place around the world, with a planned ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest in Dundee this weekend set to attract more than 2,000 participants before its postponement.
The large numbers prompted organiser Joy Deslyn to call a halt – for now – to the planned march in the city, with fears over a potential coronavirus spread at the forefront of her mind.
Mr Alexander said: “I think it’s fantastic that people are showing that solidarity. And I think part of the reason it was cancelled was because the number of people who wanted to attend.
“So it’s a good thing that people are showing their support for that wider agenda of tackling some of the inequalities that exist in society.
“The second thing is coronavirus. I’ve been quite alarmed when I’ve looked at some of the pictures from across the globe, some of those protests, that many aren’t adhering to social distancing, many aren’t wearing facemasks, and there is a real risk there that people are doing a great thing for a great cause, but they’re also potentially causing greater risk and greater harm by not following the guidance.
“So, I think it’s right when the numbers dictated that social distancing wasn’t going to be possible, to take a step back and review where we’re at, and I know they’re talking about postponing it for perhaps a later date.”
Mr Scott said: “Obviously there’s a problem with the police in America and people are quite rightly across the world disgusted by what’s happened.
“People are quite right to be angry and quite right to protest. Obviously not violent protests, and we have seen some violence, but thankfully not much.
“Most people have been very peaceful when they’ve been protesting. But again, because we’ve got coronavirus, it’s kind of a double-whammy.
“You’ve got people protesting about this and you also got people that if they get too close they can help the spread of coronavirus too. So it’s just unfortunate.
“But it’s just extraordinary to see these pictures…just incredible really, that’s all you can really say.”
Mr Alexander, who represents the Strathmartine ward, added: “I think it shows that there is a broader awareness of the issues.
“Sometimes you can see these things on the news, it seems like a distant issue, something that doesn’t directly impact on your life or the people you interact with, but the reality is, it has an impact on all of us, and it’s just one example – and there are countless examples – of some of the inequalities that exist in our society.
“It’s no bad thing for people to be openly discussing, debating, challenging views, and putting them out there, I think that is what democracy is all about.
“It’s the only way that things will change, if people challenge them, if people are vocal about what they feel those inequalities are and how we can seek to tackle them.
“So I think the fact we’ve got that number of people sign up to say, ‘I want to support this’, in any way, shape or form is a great thing. It shows that we’ve got a population here in Dundee that is engaged in that broader suite of issues and want to do something about it.
“I’m not a politician for being a politician’s sake. Like those 2,000 people, I just had very strong views and wanted to do the best for my society and my city to improve things, and I think that’s exactly what they’re trying to do. So I think it’s a good thing for all of us.”
After this interview had taken place, a mural depicting Mr Floyd was defaced, with an apparent white supremacist logo painted over his face, and the word ‘Black’ painted over – leaving the slogan reading “Lives Matter”.
Read about it below.