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Marcus Rashford: Hundreds gather at mural for anti-racism demo

Marcus Rashford: Hundreds gather at mural for anti-racism demo thumbnail

image copyrightPA Media

image captionThe 700-strong crowd gathered at the mural to protest against racism after three black England players were targeted after missing penalties in the shootout loss to Italy

England star Marcus Rashford has said hundreds of people gathering for an anti-racism demonstration at a mural of him has left him “lost for words”.

The work in Withington, where Rashford grew up, was defaced after England lost in the Euro 2020 final, but has been repainted and covered in messages.

People took the knee at the Stand Up to Racism demo at 18:00 BST and speakers addressed the 700-strong crowd.

The Manchester United forward said he was “overwhelmed” by the response.

image captionFelicité Sora said young black footballers in France had faced similar abuse

Karen Reismann, 61, who was fined £10,000 for breaching Covid rules during an NHS pay protest, said: “We all know [that these people think] if they win they are English, if they lose they are black.”

Felicite Sora, 35, came to the demo with her five-year-old son Ruben.

The NHS worker, who moved to Manchester from Paris six years ago, said she had seen “the same hate directed when Kylian Mbappe missed the penalty for France on social media”.

“It was the same issue for very young black players in France,” she said.

“It’s important to support these young people [and] it’s important that my son understands he is a beautiful young man whatever happens, like Rashford and Sancho and Saka.”

A girl who addressed the crowd said she admired the Manchester United forward for having the bravery to take a penalty.

“I’m not mad at him,” she said.

“I’m just so proud of how he tried.”

image captionPeople took the knee as the demo started in Withington
image captionKaren Reismann, who was fined £10,000 for breaching Covid rules during an NHS pay protest, addressed the crowd

The mural was defaced with several swear words shortly after Rashford missed a penalty, along with Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, in the 3-2 shootout loss to Italy on Sunday.

Greater Manchester Police said it was investigating a report of racially aggravated damage to the mural and a social media post which was directed at Rashford, Sancho and Saka.

Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes condemned the racist abuse and “vile behaviour” which has directed towards the England players.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to hold a meeting with social media firms regarding taking tougher action over racism.

Withington Walls co-founder Ed Wellard, who commissioned the artwork, said those responsible for the vandalism should be educated rather than punished.

A crowdfunding page for the mural has now raised more than £34,000, which Mr Wellard said would be used to fund further pieces.

media captionRashford mural tributes: ‘Something beautiful out of something negative’

At the scene

Rumeana Jahangir, BBC News Online

One of the speakers said the rally in a small side street was “unorthodox”.

The area between the more well-known suburbs of Moss Side and Didsbury does not normally attract much attention, but it has become the focus of love for its most famous son.

Parents, children, pastors and even a woman in a Scotland shirt turned out to show vocal support for Rashford and the wider black community.

In the 48 hours since Sunday’s game, there has been a rollercoaster of emotions locally as the initial anger and upset turned into hope, defiance and love.

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