The murder of George Floyd was truly shocking. Footage of his arrest and death has been shared around the world and I know that many of my constituents in Manchester Gorton will be feeling hurt, scared, and angry.
I share those feelings. My full support and solidarity is with the Black Lives Matter movement across the US and the UK. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade who have all been killed by police over the past week in the US.
I stand with all those protestors who, in the midst of their grief, are fighting for a better world.
This feels like a watershed moment in the fight against racism, but we have seen other watershed moments come and go with little tangible change. I pray this is different. And, I hope the proximity to the US Presidential Elections provides an opportunity to elect someone who fights for equality and justice in the White House.
As the protests continue, the silence of the British Government and in particular our Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, is deafening. This is not the time for silence, this is the time for action. I hope the Government will unequivocally condemn the murder of George Floyd and President Trump’s statements since in the strongest possible terms and I will continue to press Dominic Raab to do so.
Yesterday I was proud to see the Labour Party call for all exports of British-made riot control equipment being used in the perpetration of violence by police against unarmed protestors and journalists in the US to be halted. Our Government must not be complicit in the violent oppression being enacted by President Trump.
Watching the events unfold in America, it would be all too easy to assume we Brits are immune from insidious, institutional racism of this kind. We dismiss this as an ‘American problem’. But, to do so is wilfully ignorant.
Here in Britain, the history of anti-blackness has a different story to that in America tied up in the history of empire and racism, but it is no less lethal or corrosive. Britain has its own shameful list of BAME men and women who have died in police custody: Mark Duggan, Rashan Charles and Sean Rigg, to name just a few. I believe this is a moment when the Government could take tangible action to weed out the pervasive institutional racism in our own policing and criminal justice system.
So, as we stand in solidarity with those fighting racism in America, we must also do so for those in Britain.