I totally understand the anger and grief that is felt not just in America but here in the UK in response to the killing of George Floyd. I also support the right to protest lawfully and in accordance with the current rules on social distancing.
While, in the wake of this killing, racial divisions in the US are plain to see, it is also incumbent on us to use this moment to look with renewed vigour at how black people are treated here in the UK. Racism is abhorrent. It has no place in our communities and we all have a part to play in tackling it. The wealth of diversity across our country should be something to be celebrated.
I have been heartened by the solidarity shown in the UK, whether that be by colleagues in the Parliamentary community, the lighting purple of buildings or people from many walks of life ‘taking a knee’. I have also been struck by the number of British people wanting to demonstrate their support for the Black Lives Matter campaign. But the strength of feeling in the wake of George Floyd’s killing serves as a reminder that work remains to be done here in the UK.
There are some good national and local initiatives out there with great people involved in them. There are also well-established mechanisms in place in Whitehall and the police to address racially motivated discrimination, improve policing and stamp out racist bullying in schools, some of these flowing from a Hate Crime Action Plan (which you can read more about here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/hate-crime-action-plan-2016). At this time, we must not only draw on these resources, but also examine whether they are sufficient. With this in mind I have ensured that ministers are aware of the strength of feeling on this issue.
I am appalled by the racism experienced by those in the BAME community and I will continue to support efforts made to end racism.