Manchester Trades Union Council stands in solidarity with the family of George Floyd and with those protesting against this latest horrific example of racist police violence.
Black and ethnic minority communities in Britain, as in the US, have been affected disproportionately by the current Covid 19 crisis. This is the result of a number of factors including poverty, inadequate housing, institutional racism in the healthcare system, and the high proportion of black and ethnic minority people employed in essential frontline services such as the NHS, social care and public transport. Members of some communities have been the victims of racist physical and verbal abuse as a result of both fear and malicious reporting.
We recognise that the rage over George Floyd’s murder is increased by the disproportionate impact on black and ethnic minority people of the US government’s economic and health responses to the Covid 19 pandemic, leading to many avoidable deaths and mass unemployment. We oppose the violence being used against protesters by the state and white supremacist gangs and support the calls to stop the export of crowd control weapons to the USA.
In spite of the Covid 19 crisis and the clearly disproportionate burden placed on black and ethnic minority workers the government shows little or no signs of wishing to pull back from the “hostile environment” policy including charges for healthcare, tightening up and introducing further racist immigration rules.
Black and ethnic minority people have been targeted disproportionately by the police over alleged or actual breaches of the lockdown regulations, including well-publicised incidents in Manchester, such as a black man in Fallowfield who was arrested and threatened with pepper spray while delivering food to vulnerable family members and Desmond Mombeyarara being tasered in front of his young child. British police behaviour (including arrests, holding people close together for hours) at some of the protests in solidarity with George Floyd made distancing much more difficult rather than facilitating safe protest. The contrasts between this, the failure to take action over the assault on rail worker Belly Mujinga, and the treatment of Dominic Cummings are stark.
We encourage people to take part in protests against racism and police violence, and to show solidarity with the struggles in the USA and around the world. The coronavirus legislation must not be used to curtail the right to protest, however we urge people to take distancing and other precautions very seriously – black and ethnic minority people are at higher risk from Covid 19 and Black Lives Matter whether it comes to violence or the coronavirus. To assist with keeping crowds spread out we will make our public address system available for these protests where practicable.
We express our commitment to the struggle against racial injustice here and internationally and our solidarity with all those in the frontline of that struggle, as trade unionists and as human beings.