Lambeth leaders pass motion of solidarity with Black Americans after death of George Floyd

Lambeth Council has passed an emergency Black Lives Matter motion in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of US police.  

The joint motion from Lambeth Labour and Lambeth Greens, commits the council to stand in “complete solidarity with Black people in America, in Britain, and around the world”, to support the Black Lives Matter movement, and to work with the community and the police in the borough to “ensure that policing in the borough is proportionate and fair to all residents”.   

Introducing the motion at a council meeting last week (June 3) , deputy leader Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite said she stood in solidarity with Black communities in America “against the naked police brutality towards our Black brothers and sisters”.  

“But whilst it’s important to stand against episodes of overt racist brutality, to say that racism is down to a few bad apples is to ignore the systemic racism that is imbedded in our society. 

“Just look at the poor outcomes for Black people of African and Caribbean descent and Asians in the UK today.   

“The health inequalities which see Black and Asians twice as likely to die of Covid-19, the rate of unemployment for BAME groups is almost twice the levels as for Whites. 

“Black people are 40 times more likely than Whites to be stopped and searched, Black men are 26 times more likely than White men to be remanded in custody, and nearly 50 per cent of murder victims within London are black,” she said.  

She said the experiences of Black people, together with the data, “tells us that racism is systemic, it’s complex, it’s interconnected, and it’s multilayered, and unless you break those systems of structural inequalities, you are complicit with its existence”.  

“We need to go deeper than the understandable rage we feel [about the] police brutality that resulted in the murder of George Floyd.  

“My challenge to all of you is to ask yourself what are you doing to make a difference when such events are not in the news, what are you doing to identify and tackle those systems within education, within health, within employment, within the judiciary system, within politics, which leads to unequal outcomes for black and ethnic minority groups,” Cllr Brathwaite said, adding that one of the first things that needs to be done is to have an open dialogue about race.  

“A deep and honest dialogue, one which is not met with resistance, or an unwillingness to listen, or defensiveness, or the roll of one’s eyeball,” she added. 

The motion committed the council to lobbying the Government for immediate action “to address the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic people, and for the release of the report”.  

It committed the council to calling on the Government to make urgent changes to policy and guidance to “protect BAME communities”, to implement an action plan to reduce the risk to BAME employees and to address the underlying issues, to carry out an independent BAME Covid-19 inquiry, and to implement an immediate suspension of export licences of sales of arms to the US, including riot shields, tear gas, rubber bullets and small arms, and an investigation into how British arms are being used in internal repression and violations of civil rights. 

The motion also committed to a listening event to be held later in June to hear from the community about the impact of Covid-19, “including on policing approaches and any community tensions”.  

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