09:04PM, Sunday 14 June 2020
Like the rest of the world, Slough has been shocked by the killing of George Floyd in the USA - another black man who has lost his life because of police brutality.
We must not allow Mr Floyd to become just another statistic and a name on a list. His shocking death has shone a light on the racism experienced by many black people in the US and beyond and should be the catalyst for change.
Protesters are rightly calling for the basic human rights of people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups to be respected, for them to be able go about their daily lives without the threat of police violence, and for all of us to take action to dismantle the structural and institutional practices that entrench racism in our society.
In cities across the US, however, we have seen law enforcement authorities using excessive force in response to these protests, including against children, the elderly and members of the media.
President Trump has also threatened the deployment of the military to escalate this response while peaceful protesters were tear-gassed and beaten nearby.
Many Slough residents have raised their concerns about our role in enabling the police response in the US.
It’s a legitimate concern that British-sold equipment may have been used in these incidents.
I am therefore calling on the Government to immediately suspend any exports of riot control equipment to the US, pending a review of whether they are being used in response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
I also believe the next time the Prime Minister speaks to President Trump he must convey to him our abhorrence at his response to these events.
We must take this moment to examine the racial challenges in our own country which, though perhaps not as overt as in America, are nevertheless very much present.
This means seriously tackling the racial injustices that scar our society and addressing structural inequalities, wherever they are found.
When there are so many issues right now that we cannot address, let us seize this moment together to fix the things we can.
I stand firmly with black and ethnic minority communities in the US, the UK and across the world in the fight against racism.
We must stand together to build a better society.
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