MORE than 150 people turned out for a silent march through the streets of Andover in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Police estimate as many as 175 people joined the peaceful protest, as residents joined others across the country in taking a stand against racism.

It comes after George Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a white police officer knelt on Mr Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking protests across the United States which have since made their way to the UK.

Organisers Katie Garwood and Lydia Graham stress that the Andover protest was a peaceful one, born out of their frustrations over issues both in America and closer to home.

Katie told the Advertiser: “Me and Lydia were having a conversation about racism, about George Floyd, about being angry and being sad, just so many emotions going through our heads. And Lydia was the one who said, ‘let’s do something’.”

Lydia says that racism is a bigger issue than people may realise in the UK and is often ‘hidden’ in ways that make it less straightforward to spot.

“People don’t think racism is a thing over here,” she said, “and it’s so frustrating.

“Obviously a lot of it is hidden in systems and policies, but those who are black and living in our town, they will be able to tell you about it.”

Katie says she has experienced racism herself during her time living in Andover.

“I’ve experienced it,” she told the Advertiser, “my kids have experienced it being mixed race. I’ve dealt with racism since they were old enough to go to play school. But the support I’ve had from schools is amazing.”

But Lydia stresses that it’s not just people who have experienced racism who should be coming together to show solidarity.

“This isn’t to come and give yourself a pat on the back,” she said ahead of the event.

“I’m part of the problem, I’m white and privileged and that means I need to be one of the ones to do something.”

Katie says the response to Saturday’s march was “really positive and respectful” and that the attendance exceeded any expectations she and Lydia had.

Conversations were had with police in the days leading up to the event, and two officers in attendance on Saturday remarked how the protest had lived up to its intention of being a peaceful one.

Those in attendance were also warned ahead of time to remember social distancing advice and wear protective masks if possible – with most people doing so.

Black, white, young and old took part in the march, many bearing signs and slogans supporting the cause.

Participants met at the Marlborough Street car park, before making their way down the high street and Bridge Street, looping back past the Town Mills and back towards Marlborough Street.

The route was completed three times before attendees dropped to one knee and observed a minute’s silence was held as a show of respect.