Brighton & Hove City Council is asking all residents to come out on their doorsteps at 8pm and stand in silence or take the knee to show support for people of colour. This follows the shocking death of George Floyd whilst detained by police in Minneapolis, USA. The council leader, Councillor Nancy Platts, and Convenor of the Greens, Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, will also be jointly writing to Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis, expressing their sympathy and solidarity with people of colour in the city.
Taking the knee started as a protest at NFL American football games in 2016 by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. It is tradition at American sporting events to play their national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, before games commence. Kaepernick and fellow player Eric Reid, both African-Americans, took the knee during the anthem to highlight racial inequality and police brutality.
Brighton & Hove City Council has issued a statement:
‘We stand in solidarity with the family, friends and community of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We in the UK cannot ignore yet another death of an unarmed person of colour in police custody. As a council, we recognise that George Floyd’s death took place in the context of centuries of social deprivation and economic extraction that have been endured by people of colour. As anti-imperialists we recognise that America has been built on the slavery, dispossession and subjugation of its native and BAME population.
‘As anti-racists, we stand shoulder to shoulder with all those in America and across the world who feel anger, hurt and fear after yet another instance of discriminatory state violence. Although we are grateful and recognise the good work that the police do in protecting communities in our city and their joint work with the council, it is also crucial that we in the UK recognise that we are still not immune from institutional racism in our justice system.
‘Despite progress following the McPherson Inquiry, BAME people still statistically suffer more use of force in the UK, are over-represented in the prison population and are more likely to be sent to prison than white offenders. According to INQUEST, BAME communities were twice as likely to die in custody. The Runnymede Trust found that, between 1995 and 2015, no police officer was prosecuted over a person of colour’s death in custody.
‘It is of great concern that it appears that some within the justice system can act with impunity as they very rarely face criminal prosecutions. We all have a responsibility to tackle racism. Brighton & Hove take pride in being a City of Sanctuary and a community committed to celebrating our diversity and opposing prejudice and racism. We call on the UK government to take this opportunity to reassess the racial disparities in our criminal justice system.
‘Now is the time to end the severe class and racial inequalities which exist across the world.’
For more information on Black Lives Matter