Joint statement on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter

We are in solidarity with black people and the victims and survivors of state violence everywhere, including those exercising their democratic right to stand against it now.

The structural and pervasive racism that led to the torture and murder of George Floyd under the knee of an American police officer is not unique to the United States. It is built in to Britain’s public institutions, it exists in our immigration system and it is written in to our history books. It lives and breathes in our society today.

This is not just a ‘black issue’ or a ‘race issue’; the structures of oppression do not operate in a silo. It is not confined to one area of policy nor can it be attributed wholly to a single government. It is your problem and ours.

In the UK, too many people with BAME heritage are dying with COVID-19, as outlined by the Public Health England report. The hostile environment is preventing those most vulnerable from getting healthcare, housing and employment. People are languishing in immigration detention centres and living in poverty. This is an empirical reality. The evidence of injustice is stark.

As organisations that fight for a just and fair society, silence is not an option. One statement does not fix this. As the novelist Ralph Ellison said: “Some things are just too unjust for words”.

So we call for the government to act. It must urgently tackle systemic racism in our institutions, end the hostile environment and take steps to protect BAME people from the lethal risks of COVID-19. These are the basic human rights and justice that every human being deserves.