Victoria: Several thousand people gathered in downtown Victoria Sunday to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death last month in Minneapolis.

One of the rally organizers says the importance of the battle against racism superceded concerns about mass gatherings during a pandemic.

Vanessa Simon says most people wore face masks and masks were handed out to those who didn’t have them, while demonstrators were urged to maintain physical distancing.

She acknowledges the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but says racism is also a pandemic that has continued for centuries.

The peaceful rally, which began at 4 p.m. and continued for several hours, was one of a number held across British Columbia over the weekend.

A crowd of about 700 gathered in Prince George on Friday and Saturday, while hundreds attended events from Courtenay to Kelowna and Salmon Arm, and upwards of 5,000 rallied in Vancouver on Friday.

Simon says the Victoria protest was important because people need to understand that systemic racism happens in the city, just as it does across Canada and North America.

“The thing is, it’s more covert than overt. People aren’t dying in the streets, but people are dying behind closed doors,” she says.

Fellow rally organizer and member of the Canada women’s national rugby sevens team, Pamphinette Buisa, agrees that it is time to speak up.

“Enough’s enough,” she says.

“We can’t be OK with being complacent. We can’t be OK with what’s happening, because it’s not.” (CTV)

The Canadian Press