Tag Archives: george floyd

Reactions to the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer

Liberal Democrats have been commenting on the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer.

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Observations of an expat: The Trial

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Derek Chauvin, three other police officers, the rest of American policemen, law enforcement generally, the legal system, racism and racial justice are on trial in a Minneapolis courtroom.

First, the sketchy facts of the case. African-American George Floyd was arrested after allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill. Officer George Chauvin held him to the ground by pressing his knee against his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. By the time the ambulance arrived, George Floyd was dead.

Chauvin is charged with manslaughter, second degree murder and third degree murder. He faces the possibility of 40 years in prison.

George Floyd’s last words—“I can’t breathe”—sparked the worst race riots in American society and spilled over into 69 countries around the world. “Black Lives Matter” became the chant of an estimated 26 million protesters across the US. Ninety-three percent were classified as peaceful. But the ones that weren’t caused an estimated $2 billion in damage.

The Black Lives Matter riots were were seen by African-Americans as the culmination of centuries of brutal, legalised racism by American law enforcement. It started with slavery and extended through the Jim Crow era of indiscriminate lynchings and continued past the civil rights era.

African-Americans have fought back. The 4 April 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr by Earl Ray sparked off what was dubbed the “Holy Week Riots” In 110 American cities. In 1992 four Los Angeles policemen were acquitted over using “excessive force” in the beating of African-American Rodney King. The riots that followed left 2,383 arrested, 12,000 injured and 63 dead as well as causing $1billion worth of damage.

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Taking on persistent discrimination and racism

As we reflect with horror on the murder of George Floyd we must now consider what can be done to address the racism and structural discrimination that continue to affect the lives of members of our BAME communities. The strength of feeling and the protests internationally during the four weeks since George Floyd’s murder have provided a call to action and a stark reminder of racial discrimination.  This comes in the wake of research identifying the greater vulnerabilities of BAME communities to Covid-19.  Racism that has persisted stubbornly for years has been brought to the fore by the Black Lives Matter protests and counter-protests last weekend.

We need to acknowledge the mistakes made in the past and we need to implement effective measures to tackle racism in our society today. I listened to Ed Davey in the House of Commons ask the Prime Minister about the discrimination behind suspicion-less stop and search.  If you are a black person you are 47 times more likely than a white person to be subject to stop and search.

The Government must move further and faster to redress institutional racism in the criminal justice system and many other parts of our society.

The Liberal Democrats have joined with BAME communities in calling for a government-wide race equality strategy, so Boris Johnson’s Commission on Racial Inequality is a welcome first step. It shows that the Black Lives Matter campaign has had an impact which is to the credit of everyone who has raised their voice against racial injustice over the last month.

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