I’ve been contacted by a large number of people in Reading East about the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests both in the US and the UK. Please read my full response to these events below:
The killing of George Floyd was absolutely appalling.
I am strongly opposed to racism and I believe that Black and minority ethnic people deserve fairness, justice and equality.
This racist murder by a white police officer needs to be investigated urgently. I hope that the case will be treated with the seriousness it deserves, both by the police and the courts in Minnesota.
It is difficult to imagine the effect of this on Mr Floyd’s family. It is also clear that the attack has deeply affected local residents in Minneapolis and the Black community in the United States, this country and around the world. Like many people, my thoughts are with the Floyd family and the Black community. I would like to offer my support at this difficult time.
The murder and subsequent protests have also highlighted deep rooted inequality in our society. I understand the outrage felt about George Floyd’s murder. I hope that the Government and society as a whole will listen to the Black community and strengthen efforts to tackle racism at home and abroad.
Given the seriousness of the issue and the longer-term, deep-seated problems of inequality, I am challenging the Government to condemn Donald Trump’s response to the killing of Mr Floyd.
I am also concerned about the use of riot control measures in the United States. I support the Shadow Trade Secretary, Emily Thornberry, who has demanded that the Government suspend the sale of riot control equipment to the US.
It is also important to remember that the case follows a number of troubling developments in Britain in recent years, such as the Windrush Scandal, the Grenfell Disaster and more recently the greater number of deaths from corona virus among Black and minority ethnic residents.
People in our community have been discriminated against in the Windrush Scandal, which was a product of the hostile environment created by the Home Office and the Government. I have worked with councillors and other community campaigners to take up cases, challenge wrongful decisions and call for compensation paid to those who have been mistreated. But, it is important to remember that this scandal should never have happened in the first place and some searching questions need to be asked about how it was allowed to take place.
Many of the people affected by the Grenfell disaster were from Black and minority ethnic communities, and I hope the inquiry will explain how and why dangerous cladding was approved for use on the tower. I’m calling for a much stronger response from the Government to the problem of dangerous cladding on flats and other properties, which affects hundreds of people in Berkshire, a large number of whom are from BME communities.
I am also very concerned about the higher death rate from the coronavirus among Black and minority communities. I believe there needs to be a much more detailed investigation to understand why this is the case and to urgently see what measures can be taken. Any attacks, including spitting, which are linked to the virus, should be treated very seriously. I should add that I was appalled by the attack on Belly Mujinga and I have discussed this with her trade union and supported their efforts to raise this with the Government.
As well as these immediate issues, there is also a real need to improve many people’s understanding of inequality. I believe there should be a greater focus on teaching Black History and World History in schools and more needs to be done to raise awareness among the community as a whole.
Councils, community organisations and local schools have done some important work on this and should be commended for raising awareness of Black History and I know from my own children how well Black History can be taught in local schools. However, there is much more that needs
to be done.
I want to reassure you that I will always do my best to support the diverse community in Reading East.