Black Lives Matter
GMB Southern Region condemns the state sponsored violence against Black communities in the US and stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement internationally.
Most of us have seen the heart-rending footage of a man, being held down by a police officer, begging for his life. An independent coroner has ruled that the tragic death of George Floyd was a homicide, caused by asphyxia. George Floyd is not the first to have died through police brutality, the list is endless. His death has focused an international microscope on how Black people are treated in the US through institutions and society.
The Black Lives Matter protests are bringing together millions of people mourning for
George Floyd and others who have been killed or injured as a result of racism and drawing vital attention to inequality deeply entrenched at all levels of American society. While people are marching and crying out for truth and justice across all 50 states of the US and across the world including in the UK, police brutality is being exposed on a scale not seen before. It has always existed, the difference now is that it is being widely filmed and disseminated on social media with journalists as well as protestors being attacked.
This week the Military, Special Forces, State Troopers, National Guard, Mounted Police and Park Police armed with tear gas, flash bangs, rubber bullets, batons and shields attacked peaceful protestors with violence in the US simply to make way for a photo opportunity for the President. At the same time we see those who seek to exploit the unrest, not least the US President who has threatened martial law, appealed to far right nationalists and declared war on his own people. It seems his only concern is how to cause chaos and stoke the politics of hate to get re-elected and make money.
The UK is not immune to the scourge of racism and violent acts by the police against Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities. It has always been here. The roll call of BAME citizens who have disproportionately died in police custody is testimony to that. The ongoing Windrush and Commonwealth scandal highlights how far we need to go as a country to achieve true equality. We have a Prime Minister who seeks votes from far right extremists and legitimises racism by calling black people ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’. He has compared Muslim women to ‘letterboxes’ and broken promises to hold an independent inquiry into Islamaphobia in the Conservative Party. As a result of Brexit, equalities laws safeguarded by the EU are under threat and the Tory party has also threatened to scrap the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Human Rights Act.
Emboldened by the behaviour of Boris Johnson and others, racism and race related hate crime increased significantly following the 2016 Brexit referendum and increased again following the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. BAME communities are also particularly susceptible to Covid-19 and the government’s handling of the crisis has exacerbated the situation. There have been a disproportionate number of deaths amongst BAME key workers during this crisis. This week, after pressure, the government released a report into the disproportionate effect of the virus on BAME communities which has been condemned for not tackling the issues or having any plan to deal with them. The UK still has a long way to go.
GMB stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protestors. In the UK it is time for all decent people who have been appalled by what they have seen this week, to join the movement.
GMB calls on those who believe in equality, dignity, respect and compassion to organise, mobilise and take a knee against racism. We stand against fascism. We stand for democracy. We stand for justice. We stand for the rule of law and we stand for fundamental human rights and freedoms. These values will always be worth fighting for.
Charles Adje, Chair of GMB Southern Regional Equality Forum
Marina Ahmad, Chair of the Southern Region Race Network
Paul Maloney, GMB Southern Regional Secretary
GMB Southern strongly encourage those who are attending protests over this weekend to take precautions to protect themselves by wearing masks, wearing gloves, using hand sanitiser and maintaining a 2m distance from others not from your household. Also by avoiding public transport wherever possible.Black Lives Matter
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