DOZENS of anti-racist demonstrators gathered in Coventry city centre yesterday evening (June 1), to join global protests over police brutality against black people.
A week after George Floyd was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, the USA has been gripped by unrest despite widespread curfews.
Sympathetic protests and anti-racist demonstrations have taken place in the UK, including one in Broadgate organised by Coventry Stand up to Racism.
Nathaniel Prescod of Black Conscious Coventry said: “George Floyd died in the most inhumane way, at the hands of the State. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the United States – no justice, no peace.”
Tony Conway from Coventry Against Racism says “Words are not enough in this situation. Institutional racism exists in Britain as well as the United States, that is why we see a disproportionate number of deaths amongst black and minority ethnic communities from Covid 19.
“This is why we see citizens deported and racist laws passed. Coventry Against Racism stands in solidarity today and each day that oppression continues.”
Echoing the protest marches seen in 40 US cities this week, demonstrators in Coventry held ‘Black Lives Matter’ placards and shouted ‘I can’t breathe’ – the last words of Mr Floyd as he was asphyxiated by Officer Chauvin kneeling on his neck.
A national protest in memory of George Floyd is set for 6pm today (June 3) in London.
Public sector union Unison, which helped organise the protest in Coventry, said in a statement: “Like millions of people around the world, we have looked on with revulsion and anger at the brutal racist murder of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA.
“His last words of ‘I Can’t Breathe’ are not only heart-breaking but reminiscent of previous acts of murder and violence against black people in the US.
“We condemn the actions of President Donald Trump in mobilising the National Guard against protestors and stand in defence of the democratic rights of ordinary Americans to protest peacefully and hold demonstrations.
“In this situation we send our solidarity and support to union members in the United States who are standing in solidarity with protestors and against police violence.
“Minneapolis has a proud union and history and Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005 representing bus drivers have refused to transport police officers to the demonstration in an act of incredible solidarity.
“As one bus driver and trade unionist commented – ‘As a transit worker and union member I refuse to transport my class and radical youth to jail. An injury to one is an injury to all. The police murdered George Floyd and the protest against it is completely justified and should continue until their demands are met.’
“Another example are tech workers at Facebook who have taken action against what they see as inaction by Mark Zuckerburg regarding inflammatory posts being published on the platform.
“Racism is an everyday reality for many Americans. There are have been already over 100,000 Covid-19 deaths in the US and over 40 million are claiming unemployment benefit. The scourge of racism, extreme exploitation and economic injustice go hand in hand in the richest country in the world.
“There have already been protests here in the UK, and we stand in solidarity with them. BAME people have been disproportionately hit by Covid-19 and locally we have seen the death of Darren Cumberbatch who died after police restrained him.
“Coventry Unison stands in solidarity to protests around the world. An injury to one, is an injury to all.”
Coventry University Students’ Union president Augustine Nwosu said: “As a union that believes in equal opportunities and freedom for all, we find it imperative to add our voices to the events in Minnesota and across the USA. We are deeply saddened by the events and project our support to those calling out the very system that has oppressed and discriminated against black people. Black Lives do Matter!
“We speak against the systemic injustice that has fuelled this incidence in our society. No one should be treated differently because of the colour of their skin. We want our leaders and educational institutions to reflect and work on their policies to ensure that black individuals are not victims of societal injustice. All hands must work to ensure our students are not victims of discrimination, unconscious bias, microaggressions and other racist attacks.
“It is important that individuals work to understand and admit the root of these issues and take action to educate themselves on issues faced by the black community to eradicate racism and the notion that black lives are inferior.”