Town halls light up for victim amid USA #BlackLivesMatter protest

Three town halls were lit up in purple this week to mark the tragic death of George Floyd in Minnesota, USA.

Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark’s main offices marked George Floyd’s death after he was arrested by Minnesota cops, sparking destruction across America.

Footage of his being held down has been shared globally and has horrified millions of people across the world, including people in across South London.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council’s Leader, said: “We are a council, a borough and a community that believes in justice. The death of Mr Floyd highlights the huge injustices faced by Black communities in the US, and we want to demonstrate our rejection of all such discrimination here in our part of London.

“We will light our iconic town hall purple, so that people can see our abhorrence of racism, in any form, at any time. We stand with the Mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey and the people of the city during these difficult days.”

Lambeth council is also working to address structural inequalities in the borough by continuing wider engagement with communities in Lambeth to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable. Data collected by Public Health England and other agencies has shown a clear disproportionate impact on BAME and vulnerable communities.

The council has commissioned brand new research to survey the impact of coronavirus on our borough – data which the council intends to discuss and debate with Lambeth community leaders at a listening event which will be held later this month to hear those concerns and inform the council’s approach as plans for recovery are developed.

Cllr Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, said: “COVID-19 has shown in the starkest and most tragic terms that BAME and vulnerable communities have been hit hardest.

“The data shows that more black and ethnic minority people are dying of the virus. BAME people are also being directly impacted by the economic impact of the lockdown – jobs have been furloughed or lost altogether and many people are struggling to make ends meet.

“The virus does not discriminate – but our public service and key workers are taking the brunt of this awful pandemic. We must find out why this is and discuss the next steps with our community, together.”

The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions have also impacted on issues such as community policing, with concerns raised recently by residents and community leaders about rising levels of anti- social behaviour and increased numbers of stop and search. There is also the potential for rising tensions among gangs which was reduced markedly during the lockdown.

Cllr Jacqui Dyer, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety has been in regular discussion with local police during the outbreak. She said: “The council is aware of the worries amongst our communities about how policing operates, especially at this difficult time. The lockdown restrictions have now been partially eased – and this presents a real challenge to ensure fairness in policing.

 

Lawrence House, Lewisham, is lit up in purple

“As part of our community listening event later this month we want to hear from our residents anything that will support our ongoing work to improve the policing and safety of our borough.  The borough’s statutory leadership, businesses, organisations, community leaders, council officers and many residents are committed to working together to ensure Lambeth is made safer.

“At the same time, I am confident that councillors are engaging proactively with their local police to respond to concerns which have rightly been raised. With these strong networks working closely together, at borough wide and real local levels, I believe we can make Lambeth safer.”

More detail on the agenda and timings of the community engagement event will be finalised in the coming days.

Cllr Hopkins said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on many difficult issues. Lambeth council is determined to make sure that we listen to our communities and respond to their concerns, whether that be about the impact of the coronavirus, issues relating to policing and community safety as well as taking a clear stand against racism and discrimination, in all its forms.

“As we light up the Town Hall purple tomorrow, we must re-double our commitment to make sure Lambeth remains united.”

Southwark council offices

A spokesperson for Southwark Council tweeted: “The killing of George Floyd has horrified people around the world. 

“We stand against racism and injustice, alongside and in solidarity with the local and global Black community.” 

 


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