Folkestone and Hythe CLP sends our solidarity and shares in the grief of the family, friends and community of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We condemn the institutional and systemic racism that caused his death and continues to kill black people in the US and here in the UK. We stand for #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd. We say #BlackLivesMatter.
George Floyd’s death and the deaths of hundreds of other members of the black community in America take place in a context of centuries of social deprivation and economic oppression that have been endured by black communities across the globe. This utterly brutal and racist act was the touch paper to ignite a revolt fed by the deepest processes of a system filled with inequality and racism.
Sadly, such acts of racial hatred are by no means new, unique to America or isolated from each other. We must confront the reality that black people disproportionately suffer from police use of force in the UK, are over-represented in prison populations, are 28 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police and are more likely to be sent to prison than white offenders. According to INQUEST, there have been 1741 deaths following contact with the police in England & Wales since 1990 – with black communities disproportionately impacted. The Runnymede Trust found that from 1995 to 2015, not a single police officer was prosecuted in the UK over a black person’s death in custody.
The brutal killing of George Floyd would by itself entirely justify the pain and anger that communities feel, but so too should any of the other hundreds of black people killed by American police. The US ruling class, led by Trump, is not simply killing one, but directly killing hundreds of black Americans and forcing millions into poverty. This has been thrown into even sharper focus by America’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, where black Americans are dying at three times the rate of white Americans. Black communities are facing the simultaneous literal threat of death from coronavirus and the state, and of being forced into poverty due to massive unemployment.
The global health pandemic has reminded people in the UK of the critical role black workers play in our NHS and our care homes, our transport systems and food supply, and in education and every other profession and sector of our country, yet we also face a situation where black workers are disproportionately impacted by the expression of institutional and structural racism through state violence and the Coronavirus epidemic. Health inequalities mean that the COVID-19 crisis is not the first instance of health disparities in our country – for example, black women are five times more likely to die in child birth.
While senior Conservatives have acted with impunity, black people have been disproportionately apprehended, stopped and searched during the lockdown period. Desmond Ziggy Mombeyarara was tasered in front of his child at Manchester petrol station. Dwayne Francis was handcuffed and detained by the police when he was waiting in his car for the post office to open.
We must stand together as one to fight institutional racism, structural racism and social injustices, and work together to promote a society based on fairness and justice. We cannot be bystanders. We must organise collectively to fight racism and demand that governments urgently address the racial disparities in society.
We urge people to support and donate to anti-racist campaigns in the UK and US, including Kent Anti-Racism Network (see: https://www.facebook.com/KentARN/ and https://kentantiracismnetwork.wordpress.com), Stand Up to Racism in the UK (https://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/) and Black Lives Matter (https://blacklivesmatter.com/)
Twitter user @perkin_amalaraj has also collated a Google Doc of practical actions we can all take to support black lives in the UK: (https://docs.google.com/document/d/10iIz_pFB8DzPkwddc8dcmJdJ0ZMITfTs7lvs4uyusZk/preview?pru=AAABcpjiEE4*Bcy5fUZj-HNqCDQdNsC4Fw)
In the UK, you can also donate to the gofundme campaign for the family of Belly Mujinga, the black rail worker who was spat on in London while doing her job and later died of coronavirus: (https://www.gofundme.com/f/rip-belly-mujinga?fbclid=IwAR0p_F-SoQKQIC3zZRUbMYEtKsgpbZkhpmpj3FPjfcf_-b4IWqMKVNQRPgk)
We further urge people across Folkestone and Hythe to #TakeTheKnee on their doorstep this Wednesday 3 June at 6pm (https://facebook.com/events/s/day-of-action-justiceforgeorge/683012182475939/?ti=cl)
Picture Credit: With many thanks to Kent Anti-Racism Network.