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Teenage activist stages solo Black Lives Matter protests in Middlesbrough
5 June 2020, 17:54
A teenage activist has been staging lone protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at the end of her driveway.
14-year-old Zara Rehman was so determined to get involved with the campaign that she made her own placard to display to her neighbours and passing cars.
She's been standing outside of her home in Middlesbrough with the sign every night since Tuesday, which saw the 'Black Out Tuesday' movement take over social media.
Zara says she wanted to show her solidarity with demonstrators in the United States and around the World following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
She told LBC News: "It took me two days to make [the sign] after I did my research on the UK and the US.
"When I finished it I had a bit of anxiety, I didn't know how people would react. Mostly it was positive, I was outside on the streets and I'd get beeps.
"The odd person squirting a water pistol, but it's alright."
Zara says one passer by squirted water at her from a car.
She said: "At first I was like, wow, that's really disrespectful and, then I was just like, you know what, take it lightly.
"There's no point getting upset about it because of how many positive responses there has been."
It hasn't deterred her from standing outside with her sign every evening at 5pm.
And last night Zara's neighbours joined her at a safe distance - as a show of force and solidarity.
Around 20 locals came out to stand with Zara, many holding their own signs reading "Black Lives Matter".
She said: "I was really surprised about how many people came out.
"It was shocking because I still, I don't really expect anybody to come outside. I thought you know - it's all for the cause - it's nice to see."
When asked what was going through her mind when she decided to join the movement, she said: "I thought if I could make a difference in the community of Middlesbrough, or anywhere else, even if it's little or big or just make someone's day by them smiling or waving.
"I just want someone to see it. Someone cares. I just want them to see."
Zara told LBC News she has always stood up for her beliefs and wanted demonstrators in the US and the UK to know they have her support.
Huge rallies have been held in the US and UK over the death of African-American man George Floyd.
He died after an officer knelt on his neck while being arrested.
This weekend, more demonstrations are expected to be held in cities across the UK.
It's as the police watchdog say there are now growing concerns about forces in England and Wales - as the protests continue highlighting racism.
The IOPC says they're now hearing worries about things like stop and search and tasers.