In Lisbon, more than 5,000 people took part in the peaceful demonstration which took place over two and a half hours as protestors travelled from the Almada area to Praça Comércio.
With drums setting the pace, the most heard shout of protest was “Black Lives Matter”, but the posters that many held up had hundreds of other messages including “I don’t want to be afraid of PSP”, “stop killing us”, “this is not an American movie” and “laundry is the only thing that should be separated by colour”.
“We are saturated,” Catarina Gomes, 34, told Lusa news agency, before the beginning of the demonstration, explaining that black people “continue to experience racism in various everyday situations”, even in Portugal.
“There is more and more intolerance, people are frustrated, often for economic reasons, and start to be intolerant,” she added.
Several PSP agents ‘paved the way’ for the protesters and, although one of the reasons of the demonstration was against police violence, at no time were there any inappropriate gestures against the police.
For Valentina, 17, this was her first demonstration against racism and she decided to take to the streets because there are people who were not born “privileged” like her.
“In Portugal there is clearly racism”, she said, arguing that for her “everyone deserves the same rights”.
“They deserve to study just like us, they are judged by colour and it shouldn’t be like that”, she added.
As the demonstrators passed by the BE headquarters, the protestors saluted the blockade coordinator, Catarina Martins, with applause and shouts of “the united people will never be defeated”.
From the building’s balcony, Catarina Martins waved and clapped her hands.
Among other BE leaders, MP Beatriz Gomes Dias was also at the demonstration because the fight against racism is not a party issue, “but a question of citizenship, of people’s rights”.
Meanwhile in Coimbra, hundreds of people took to the streets in protest.
George Floyd’s death is “the turning point, the rupture, the change” and “today this protest is a tribute to all the victims” of racism and oppression, said Leonardo Botelho, one of the organizers of the initiative in Coimbra.
“On this day we say enough” appealed the student from the Faculty of Law of Coimbra, during his intervention in the demonstration. “It is not enough that we are not racists, we must be anti-racists”.
Racism is “a problem for the whole world and not just for one country”, stressed Madalena Bondzi, also from the organisation of the demonstration, which, she acknowledged, brought together “many more people” than she anticipated.
In Porto, over a thousand protesters demonstrated against racism and precarious work situations.
Joana Cabral, leader of SOS Racismo told Lusa that the demonstrations are to protest against what happened in the USA, but also “against what is happening in Brazil, in Portugal, in Viseu in Lisbon, Amadora and Porto”.
“We cannot forget that this story about George Floyd does not make him the last victim. We all have to get out of our comfort zone”, she said, stating that the two demonstrations in Porto came together because “they bring together people who come to fight for causes that are apparently more private, but that, deep down, we easily understand that they are part of the same struggle”.
She added: “It is against racism, against capitalism and against job insecurity. It is necessary to remember that a significant part of people who ensured a significant part of the work that kept society functioning during quarantine are, in many cases, people belonging to vulnerable, and often, poor racial ethnic groups”.
From the organisation of the “Rescue the future” march, Raquel Azevedo, leader of Precários Inflexíveis, explained to Lusa that the intention is, above all, “to fight for new choices, more equal rights, to demand a job with rights and to ensure that those most affected by this pandemic crisis have the social protection that is due to them”.
“We do not want to see a second crisis in our lives again and, therefore, we want to be part of a solution that allows combating unemployment, exploitation and precariousness”, she added.
Following the demonstrations the Association of GNR Professionals (APG / GNR) has demanded the determination of responsibilities in relation to the demonstrators who showed messages during the protests that “incited hatred against the police”, condemning such behaviour.
“APG / GNR repudiates the behaviour of some demonstrators who displayed posters that said ‘good police are dead police’ and who, in an absolutely deplorable way, tried to use a protest action with valid reasons to incite hatred against the security forces”, said the association.
The statement continued: “Understanding that the theme of racism is pertinent and that it even takes on a fracturing character in some societies, under no circumstances can it serve to promote what it claims to combat, namely hatred and violence, in this case against the police”.
For the APG, the promotion of hatred against the police “does not answer the question of racism as it promotes violence”, provoking “the greatest indignation” in a context in which “law enforcement officers are frequently beaten on duty”.