October 23rd, 2021.

About 100 people attended the Black Lives Matter vigil at Splash Point in Seaford on the evening of Sunday the 17th of October as part of Black History Month and to commemorate Anti-Slavery Day.

The vigil was held to remember the disproportionate number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people who died from Covid; the tragic loss of lives of people fleeing war, poverty and injustice only to die on route to our shores and those whose lives were wrongly cut short whilst in police custody.

The event was organised by a coalition of charities, activists and political parties. While most attending were from Seaford and Newhaven, others travelled from Brighton and Eastbourne to support the event.

The brilliant colours of the sunset provided a suitable backdrop and flute music, played by Sue Jappie, welcomed people as they arrived.

Dr Palo Almond introduced the event and later talked about deaths of NHS workers during the Covid Outbreak caused by lack of resources and poor planning.

In his opening speech, Cllr Rodney Reed, the Mayor of Seaford said, “I am pleased to have been invited as Mayor of Seaford to open this ‘Seahaven Remembers’ peaceful vigil against racial injustice and to promote peace, love and tolerance for all, regardless of race or creed or colour.”

He ended his speech with the words, “Here in Seaford this evening we are holding our torches rather than candles, but our presence and this Vigil is a positive statement about what can be, as well as well as a protest about what is.”

The Mayor was accompanied by his wife Mayoress Anne Reed. Cllrs Rahnuma Hayder, Mohammed Ali Hayder, Olivia Honeyman and John Edson also attended the vigil.

Other speakers included Avril Loveless from Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and Cllrs Ali and Rahnuma Hayder. A poem written by South Downs National Park Writer in Residence Alinah Azadeh was read by Tamara Gordon.

After a moment of silence participants in the vigil took the microphone to name and remember people who had died. Stones with these names were placed as a temporary memorial along the wall of the Shoal.

As the event ended with more music from Sue Jappie, people expressed their responses to the vigil.

“It was very moving, very worthwhile,” said Penny Lower.

“It was an important occasion with some really heartfelt contributions,” said Dinah Pryor from Seaford Environmental Alliance.

“It was deep and profound. Our community at its best,” said Jenny Wistreich.

Rev’d Arwen Folkes, Rector of East Blatchington and Bishopstone who attended the vigil said, “I was so moved by this evening. To hear names beyond the faceless statistics brought home the fact that every life lost, whether as a result of health and social inequalities, as a result of ethnicity, could have been saved. Bearing witness in this way was a stark reminder that we must do better.”
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