'Star Wars' actor John Boyega rallies crowds at Black Lives Matter protest

Exactly one week after fiercely protesting against racists on social media, Star Wars star John Boyega has delivered a stirring speech in the streets of London, England, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

On June 3, The Black-British actor lead a rally in 350-acre Hyde Park, where he was joined by thousands of others standing in solidarity with protesters from all across the world, triggered by the death of George Floyd.

“Black lives have always mattered,” began the 28-year-old in his four-minute speech against systemic racism. “We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless.”

“And now is the time,” Boyega said. “I ain’t waiting.”

John Boyega speaks to the crowd during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park on June 3, 2020 in London, England.

John Boyega speaks to the crowd during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park on June 3, 2020 in London, England.

Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

“We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd,” he added, before acknowledging the deaths of other Black individuals killed in racially motivated attacks, including Trayvon Martin and Stephen Lawrence.

Similarly, Floyd — a Black man — died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25.

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Midway through his heartfelt speech, Boyega began to lose his voice.

“Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process,” he continued, while fighting back tears. “We don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved, we don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved, but today, we’re going to make sure that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones.”

The London-born actor added: “I need you to understand how painful this s—t is. I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing … and that isn’t the case anymore.”

Protestors, including British actor John Boyega, raise their fists in Parliament square during an anti-racism demonstration in London, on June 3, 2020, after George Floyd, an unarmed black man died after a police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25, 2020.

Protestors, including British actor John Boyega, raise their fists in Parliament square during an anti-racism demonstration in London, on June 3, 2020, after George Floyd, an unarmed black man died after a police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25, 2020.

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

“Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but f—k that,” said the Disney star.

Between 2015 and 2019, Boyega starred as Finn, or FN-2187, in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. As a result, many angered fans have condemned the actor for swearing or even speaking up about racism.

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For the most part, however, Boyega was met with a wave of support.

From fans to friends, or fellow actors to filmmakers, the actor received thousands of messages filled with praise. Even Star Wars, the franchise, backed him.

“We stand and support you, John Boyega,” they wrote in a tweet on Wednesday evening.

Mark Hamill — Luke Skywalker himself — and Jordan Peele had kind words to say as well.

“Never been more proud of you, John,” wrote Hamill, 68, “Love, dad.”

“We got you John,” added Peele.

J.J. Abrams, who directed Boyega in both Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), suggested the actor would never be short of work.

“You know that as long as I’m allowed to keep working, I’ll always be begging to work with you,” wrote the critically acclaimed director. “Deep respect and love, my friend.”

Baby Driver director Edgar Wright echoed this sentiment too.

“Have (worked with him) before and would again, in a heartbeat. So proud of John,” he tweeted.

https://twitter.com/aamir17A/status/1268549953762320386

“This man really put his whole career on the line to do the right thing and speak out against injustice,” wrote another Twitter user.

“John Boyega is a real one,” the fan concluded.

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Intially, Boyega publicly acknowledged the death of Floyd on May 28 — three days after he died — in a series of scathing tweets targeted towards racists.

“I really f—ing hate racists,” the actor wrote.

“This just burns. Seems to be a never ending cycle,” he added in another Twitter post. “The murderers need to be charged severely.”

Boyega continued: “Even in the face of death this man was given zero empathy,” adding the hashtags #RIPGeorgeFloyd, #BlackLivesMatter and #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd.

Some Twitter users were offended by the expletive language used by the Pacific Rim: Uprising star. In response, he wrote: “This is my own personal account. I am not here for the kids.”

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Throughout Boyega’s demonstration, protesters chanted Floyd’s name and “Black lives matter,” as well as expletives aimed towards U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Hyde Park rally was the second major Black Lives Matter protest in the U.K. after hundreds gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square last Sunday, before marching to the U.S. embassy.

— With files from Global News’ Katie Scott and Reuters

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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