The “Star Wars” actor took a megaphone to tell the crowd of thousands assembled in the U.K. capital’s iconic park in solidarity with the American movement ignited by the death of the Minneapolis African-American man that now is the time for Black people to demand equality, and fair treatment is something he’s not willing to wait for.
“Black lives have always mattered,” said a charged-up Boyega “We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless, and now is the time. I ain’t waiting, I ain’t waiting. I have been born in this country. I’m 28 years old, born and raised in London.”
He then named some of the Black people who’ve either died while in police custody or after being confronted by racists.
“I need you guys to understand how painful this s–t is,” the British actor explained. “To be reminded every day that your race means nothing … We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd … We are a physical representation in our support of Sandra Bland … We are the physical representation in our support for Trayvon Martin.”
“We are physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence, for Mark Duggan” — Lawrence was a Black U.K. teenager who was killed in 1993 in racially motivated attack; Duggan was a 29-year-old Black man whose shooting death at the hands of police in 2011 sparked mass unrest in England — Boyega continued. “It is very, very important that we keep control of this moment, and we make this as peaceful as possible … because you know what, guys? They want us to mess up, they want us to be disorganized, but not today.”
Boyega then addressed his words to Black men and said now is the time to take better care of Black women. He spoke about one day having a nation full of Black families that are healthy and thriving, which he says all starts with Black men.
Floyd died on Memorial Day after ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin was fired the next day and later charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Those charges were raised to second-degree murder on Wednesday.
Charges have also been brought against Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, the three officers who were with Chauvin when Floyd was detained. They’ve all been charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Towards the end of Boyega’s impassioned speech, he spoke about what his words may do to his acting future but didn’t seem very worried about it.
“Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this,” he said, before igniting the crowd some more.