John Boyega hailed by Mark Hamill for rousing speech at London George Floyd protest
Mark Hamill has declared he has “never been more proud” of John Boyega after the Star Wars actor’s emotional speech at the anti-racism demonstration in London.
Boyega – who played Finn in the latest trilogy – told Black Lives Matter protesters in Hyde Park he was “speaking to you from my heart” as he delivered a rousing message through a megaphone.
Boyega paid tribute to George Floyd – the African-American who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minnesota – and continued: “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, that was never the case anymore.”
Hamill was one of those who paid tribute to the actor’s stand, tweeting: : “Never been more proud of you, John.” He signed off the message with “dad”.
The official Star Wars Twitter account also paid tribute. It said: “Lucasfilm stands with John Boyega and his message that ‘now is the time. Black lives have always mattered.
“‘Black lives have always been important. Black lives have always meant something’.
“The evil that is racism must stop. We will commit to being part of the change that is long overdue in the world. John Boyega, you are our hero.”
Thousands of people attended what was a largely peaceful demonstration in London’s Hyde Park on Wednesday. Protesters then marched to Parliament and Downing Street, where tensions later escalated.
Boyega told demonstrators in Hyde Park: “I’m speaking to you from my heart. Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but f*** that.
“Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process, 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.”
He added: “Every black person in here remembered when another person reminded you that you were black.
“So none of you out there, all those protesters on the other side, protesting against what we want to do, protesting against what we want to try and achieve, burn you, this is so vital.”
Filmmaker Matthew A Cherry quote tweeted Boyega voicing concerns about how speaking out might harm his career and said: “I would work with John Boyega and I urge other Non-Black creators to affirm that they have his back as well.”
Director Olivia Wilde was among those to respond, saying: “Absolutely. I would be honoured to work with @JohnBoyega and can only hope to have the chance. We’ve got your back, John. Don’t hold back.”
Jordan Peele, the Oscar-winning director of Get Out, said: “We got you, John.”
Actress Yvette Nicole Brown said: “Dear @JohnBoyega, I see you and I love you. Thank you for loving us.
“And know this, being on the right side of history is better than any paycheck complicit silence would provide. I stand with you. WE stand with you.”
Boyega previously said he did not want to “work in fear” when in the US, as he addressed the unrest spreading across the US and elsewhere.
Prosecutors have now filed a tougher charge of second-degree murder against former police Derek Chauvin, who was filmed pressing his knee to Mr Floyd’s neck.
The three other officers at the scene – Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – have also been charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Mr Floyd’s family, called it “a bittersweet moment” and “a significant step forward on the road to justice”.
Mr Crump said Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison had told the family he would continue his investigation into Mr Floyd’s death and upgrade the charge to first-degree murder if warranted.