I am appalled by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May and the fact that it is just the latest in a line of equivalent killings in the US that include Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown (and frankly many others).
His killing is a truly shocking piece of footage, and a stark reminder in itself that if Derek Chauvin – the police officer who kneeled on Mr. Floyd’s neck – was filmed and identifiable there must be countless other examples where equivalent brutality is not recorded and the perpetrator never brought to justice as a result.
It is hard to believe that racism of this nature is still alive and well. It is so contrary to the values that we live by. This incident is a real reminder that though racism is often concealed it is something we have a duty to listen to BAME friends and communities about and act on their behalf.
Many years before becoming an MP I worked in US politics and was struck by deep division between communities particularly those bearing the scars from slavery in the South. When I worked as a barrister, I specialised in discrimination law and worked as Counsel to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The issue of civil liberties is very close to my heart and I will not hesitate to raise my voice on issues of this nature in Parliament.
Many of you have asked me about asking the Government to ban the sale of rubber bullets and tear gas to the United States. I understand that this is a reference to the extraordinary and violent response of the US authorities of people’s legitimate human right to protest. And I know the examples in Washington DC are particularly extreme. I wanted to check the position with the Department of Trade before answering on this point and now understand that US is almost entirely self sufficient when it comes to riot control equipment.
In truth, the objections to the police response in the US are not really a product of UK exports. It is about decision-making at the very top of Government. If Americans wish to be led in a different way, then their opportunity to make that choice will come on 3 November 2020, the date of the US Presidential Election.