Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP Diane Abbott speaks out in solidarity with George Floyd protesters
- Credit: Rebecca Smith
An online Black Lives Matter rally saw activists and MPs speak out in solidarity with protesters demonstrating against police brutality and racism.
Protests erupted in America following the death of George Floyd on May 25 and have since sparked similar events in Hackney and the rest of the UK.
Speakers at the virtual demo on Sunday June 7 urged people to acknowledge the existence of institutional racism and police brutality in Britain as well as America and emphasised the importance of the demonstrations despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Diane Abbott MP said: “Tory MPs are saying people shouldn’t go out and demonstrate for safety reasons but police violence is a threat to the safety of black people, particularly black men, internationally. It’s right to demonstrate against that.
“The history of empire, of British slave holders like Bristol’s Edward Colsten and the history of colonialism is an intrinsically violent one. In 1985, the original Tottenham riots were caused by the death of Cynthia Jarrett after a police raid on her home.
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“We’ve heard about the deaths of so many black people in custody and the thousands of BAME deaths from Covid-19 is also a form of violence.”
Ms Abbott and other MPs have written to the government to call for an end to the exportation of rubber bullets and tear gas to the US.
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“We should not be aiding and abetting Trump in repressing his own people,” Ms Abbott said.
Thousands of people watched the online rally which was hosted by Hackney Stand Up To Racism.
Kadisha Burrell, sister of Kingsley Burrell who died in West Midlands Police’s custody in 2011, spoke about the need to campaign collectively to secure justice and raise concerns. She said her brother, like many others, died uttering the same words as George Floyd - “I can’t breathe”.
She said: “For the last nine years we have been fighting to improve the material conditions of our lives. We have fought against deaths in police custody and worked to overcome systematic racism, economic inequality and mass incarceration.
“During a global pandemic the impact of this bias is clearer – now more than ever.”
Residents of Hackney and Islington have been invited to join a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest at Newington Green Roundabout from 2pm to 6pm on June 13.
To show support for the movement, people are also encouraged to Take The Knee every Wednesday at 6pm.
To watch the online rally, click here,
For more information on Hackney Stand Up To Racism ,visit its Facebook page by clicking here.