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NI mum with mixed-race family backs their right to demonstrate

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Londonderry woman Maria Morris with her late husband Troy

Londonderry woman Maria Morris with her late husband Troy

Londonderry woman Maria Morris with her late husband Troy

People should attend Black Lives Matter rallies without fear of penalty, a woman whose two children are mixed-race has said.

Maria Morris will be at a rally today in Londonderry along with son Isaiah (23) and daughter Maggie (20) whose late father Troy was an African-American from New York.

Ms Morris met her husband while she was working in New York in 1990 but they returned to Derry in 2000 with their children.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ms Morris said she would be terrified if her son in particular returned to the US because of the racism against black males.

She said: "I moved to America in 1985 and I saw for myself the racism my black friends experienced and I would challenge anyone making comments, but it was when I was going out with Troy that I saw the raw hatred.

"I remember one time Troy and I were going through JFK airport and a woman's hat blew away because it was very windy.

"Being the gentleman Troy was, he immediately went after the hat but the woman started screaming at him and I could see the look on her face of pure hatred.

"I was so angry I ran after and got her hat - I put it on the ground and I danced on it with a few choice words.

"Troy said 'Just leave it, it's not going to change.' I thought it was so sad that racism was such a part of his life - this bright, educated gentleman didn't think there was a point in challenging it.

"The level of racism in America against all black people but in particular against black males terrifies me, and the reality is what happened to George Floyd could so easily happen to my son Isaiah and that is what terrifies me.

"He knows that, too, and is content to be in Derry but that means he and his sister Maggie don't get to see their family in America and they don't get to return to the place where they were born.

"A poster of a young black boy with the wording 'At what point do I stop being cute and start being a danger?' I saw in the last couple of days summed up the whole attitude that exists in society."

The family will be among those attending a Black Lives Matter rally in Derry later today.

Ms Morris continued: "This is too important a cause for us not to attend. I think people who want to protest should come out and show support.

"I am not saying people who want to come to the rally should stand and hug each other.

"People can wear a mask, use hand sanitiser and social distance - there are precautions.

"If the shopping malls can open and we saw the huge numbers at Ikea, there is no reason why an open-air protest can't go ahead without people being penalised."

Belfast Telegraph