Statement on the Racist Murder of George Floyd

RBKC Labour Opposition Group

Statement on the Racist Murder of George Floyd

The RBKC Labour Opposition Group of Councillors condemns the extrajudicial and racist killing of George Floyd on 25th May by white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes in full view of members of the public whilst three other police officers did nothing to stop his killing and prevented bystanders from intervening.

We condemn President Donald Trump’s failure to condemn the officers involved in the killing whilst branding protesters as terrorists. Or to condemn the Minneapolis Police Department which the City Council has vowed to dismantle and replace with a Community-based safety force. We also condemn Prime Minister Boris Johnson who failed for many days to acknowledge the tide of racism and hatred affecting many in the US, belatedly only saying it was “inexcusable” – racism and hatred that extends to the UK where we have seen extensive peaceful demonstrations we support against the police killing of George Floyd and similar attacks and killings by police officers in the UK.

We support the call to suspend the UK’s export of tear gas, rubber bullets and other military equipment to the US that may be used against peaceful protesters, as we have called in the past for the suspension of arms sales to Saudia Arabia, Israel, and 24 other countries who are accused of violating human rights.  

We have long experience of racism and racist attacks in North Kensington. We remember and honour the memory of Kelso Cochrane, murdered by fascist Blackshirts in 1959, the first recorded racist murder in the UK. On the 50th anniversary we commemorated his life with his family and raised a plaque at the site where he was killed. We are initiating a proposal to change the name of Southam Street to Kelso Cochrane Street in his memory.

When a young black North Kensington student El Harding was racially abused and attacked at his place of work in February this year, we protested, lobbied politicians and police, and continue to work with his family. We will support and work with any of our residents subjected to vile and unacceptable racist comments and attacks, and are always ready to call out incidents of institutional or ‘casual’ racism.

It is nearly three years since the terrible atrocity at Grenfell Tower. Many of us believe that the options taken by decision-makers to keep costs down would never have been taken for homes of their own families.

And many believe that the survivors would have been treated better if they had been from white British backgrounds.

Kensington and Chelsea is the most unequal borough in Britain. And the brutal and pervasive Covid-19 has leeched into our communities, resulting in one of the worst infection rates among wealthier neighbouring boroughs. This runs parallel with poverty, ill-health, and other factors we are struggling to understand. We may never get accurate statistics as many of our sick go to die in hospitals elsewhere.

Kensington and Chelsea Labour Group of Councillors pledges to call out racism wherever we see it, and stand by those calling it out. We will continue to support black and BAME organisations, to fight against inequality and injustice wherever we see it, and work to eradicate racism, which degrades our humanity.

9th June 2020

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