George Floyd, institutionalised racism and the UK

Christine Danniell, Freddie Brown, Faisal Qureshi, Satnam Ner · 5 June 2020

As trade unionists, we stand against injustice and forces of hatred and division in our society.

The recent events in the United States, resulting in the death of a black man, George Floyd, in the United States due to allegedly passing a counterfeit $20.00 bill are disheartening.

Derek Chauvin a police officer knelt on George’s neck for nearly nine minutes while his colleagues stood by and watched as he died. This was far from being an isolated incident. These events cast a shameful light on institutional racism in the USA, UK and worldwide.

The recent US protests resonate in the UK because of similar occurrences here. While no one is above the law, every citizen has a fundamental human right to be protected.

A public inquiry was recently announced into the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody in Scotland. Ex-Aston Villa footballer Dalian Atkinson died when he was restrained by police and tasered in Telford, Shropshire. Rasharn Charles died in hospital due to a cardiac arrest and obstructed airway during restraint from police officers in London.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has brought sharp focus into the structural disadvantages that BAME communities face daily. These disadvantages result in injustice, health and economic inequalities. The pandemic has highlighted how fragile our systems are and the fact that no one is immune from its impact.

This is an opportunity for all – whether in government or as individual citizens – to tear up outdated institutionalised racist models. It’s an opportunity to write a new model, where – to paraphrase Martin Luther King’s famous words – “a person is judged by the content of their character, rather than the colour of their skin”.

Prospect stands in solidarity with George Floyd’s family and send our sincere condolences. Our union continues to stand in solidarity for all who suffer injustice of any kind. You as an individual have the power to make a difference: you can join the union, and engage in peaceful discussion and speak up when you know you should.

Christine Danniell, Freddie Brown, Faisal Qureshi and Satnam Ner are members of Prospect’s National Executive Committee

What can you do to help?

Join Prospect’s BAME network – for members to share experiences, build relationships with allies and have access to information and resources about all the different forms of racism people experience in the workplace.

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Your views and suggestions will also be fed into Prospect’s Equal Opportunities Advisory Committee to ensure we are listening to and involving our BAME members.

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