Romford Labour’s Angelina Leatherbarrow today writes in the Havering Daily about the Black Lives Matter protests taking place.
Thousands of people took to the streets of London and across the country to protest about the injustice and inequality experienced by black people which was once again brought so devastatingly in to view by the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.
I, like many others was upset and frustrated to see a very small minority of the protest become violent, whilst their actions cannot be condoned, I was also disappointed that this became the focus for our leaders both locally and nationally.Overwhelmingly the protests have been peaceful. Thousands of people on the streets with 11 arrests, but you wouldn’tknow that from the rhetoric we have seen from Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and even our MP Andrew Rosindell. They would have us focussing on their attempts to fan the flames of division rather than do the hard work needed to soul search and understand the reason why these displays of anger and frustration happened at all.
The language being used against protesters calling them thugs and extremists is used deliberately in order to discredit the whole Black Lives Matter movement because that is easier for them to manage. But this has no reflection on what’s actually happening. You need only look on any social media platform to see how heated and divided feelings are on both the protests and the wider issue of structural racism in the UK. Our leaders have a responsibility to find resolution and healing in these times, not to stoke division and fear.
Andrew Rosindell tweeted his views over the weekend, with a nice big smiling self-portrait saying that “they” don’t respect “our” country. I doubt he has spoken to each and every protester to establish their country of origin? This IS their country as much as it is his, or mine, or yours and it is the people most hurt by the inequalities that they have experienced in our country that will be most hurt by comments that are so obviously intended to drive division in our community.
He also used images that not connected to the BLM protest and seemed to suggest anyone marching against racism must be on the political left- an astonishing claim even for someone as far to the right has himself.
By all means condemn riots, but then you better make sure you are also condemning every bit as loudly and passionately the systemic failings and racist structures in our society that lead to them in the first place.