The international protests, prompted by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers but also the long term absence of meaningful reforms or consequences for police violence against BAME communities, have been a powerful reminder of how far we have yet to go to achieve justice and racial equality. The reaction of the police and government in the US to the protests has further contributed to the anger and shock throughout the world, as peaceful protesters and even journalists have been attacked by police.
Much of the reporting on the protests has focused on the legitimacy of the methods and motives of protesters. When citizens are mistreated by those given the power to enforce the law and the responsibility to protect and serve, this jeopardises the rights and liberties of all people. Everyone should hope that these protests lead to less violence and greater protection of life and liberty. This situation is an opportunity for further education and discussion around the history of imperialism and colonialism in connection to the struggle against racism today.
While the situations in the US and UK are different, we should acknowledge our role in providing exports of anti-riot equipment, including rubber bullets, riot armour and teargas, the use of which is illegal in war. Those exports should be banned, the use of force in the US against legitimate protests should be condemned and diplomatic pressure should be used to end it. We should also take action to rid our own justice system of racism, as documented in the MacPherson and Lammy reports, and made clear by the Windrush scandal.
The fight for justice that protesters are currently engaged in was the fight of their parents and the fight of their grandparents. Despite generations of civil action and protest, fundamental reforms both in the US and the UK, to root out police violence and racism have failed to be made. As long as the police are not accountable to the communities they serve, and as long as the use of force is treated as the primary solution to social problems, these injustices will remain.
Solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and with all who fight for justice and against racism.
Alex Charlton, BAME CLP officer