The killing of George Floyd in the USA and the brutality of the reaction from the police towards mainly peaceful protesters has highlighted structural racism, injustice and inequality affecting black people in the USA and other countries right across the world. The Black Lives Matters protestors have my full solidarity and support and I hope that this becomes a turning point in how we understand and change the systemic prejudice and inequality that exists in so many organisations and companies, as well as leading to a cultural change that sees us tackle the deep-rooted racism that exists in so many parts of our society.
Many people have questioned why an incident in the USA should lead to protests here. Whilst the racism that killed George Floyd and seems endemic in much of the US Police force is a specific US issue, black people in the UK also have had cause to lament racial attitudes in our society and Policing too.
Black people in any community are more likely to be randomly stop and searched than white people, more likely when arrested to be charged, more likely when charges to be convicted and more likely when convicted to be jailed, so whilst campaigners are campaigning in solidarity with their US cousins, but they are also speaking out about issues that remain here, 20 years after the McPherson report that exposed institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police.
I regret that the legitimate fury and protests that we’ve seen are undermined by the violence, looting or criminal damage of a minority. Those who would redirect legitimate protests to thuggish or light-fingered ends. I urge all protestors to ensure social distancing wherever possible.
But we must not allow the magnitude of this moment to be lost in division. The actions of a lawless minority must not silence the dignified outrage of the vast majority of Black Lives Matters protestors.
I recognise the depth of anger felt by black people who have experienced racism all their lives and who are rightly taking to the streets to fight for their rights to equality. We should also recognise that these protests have already led to change. The officer who killed George Floyd has rightly been arrested and charged with murder. Here in the UK, it has led to the Crown Prosecution Service instigating a review into the investigation of the death of Belly Mujinga, a Transport for London worker who contracted and died from COVID-19 after being spat on by a man claiming to have the virus, following the decision by British Transport Police to close the case.
I pledge to use my privileged position as a Member of Parliament to work towards eradicating the structural racial injustices that exist within the UK and ensuring that not only do ‘Black Lives Matter’, but they are recognised as important, equal and worthy, as every other life.