Haringey Councillor makes a statement on George Floyd killing

Cllr Mark Blake comments on the death of American citizen, George Floyd

Cllr Mark Blake, Cabinet Member for Communities and Equalities

By Luchia Robinson

Cllr Mark Blake, Haringey Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Equalities has commented on the death of George Floyd.

George Floyd, 46, was a Black American man who lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. He died in May when killed by a police officer who knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.

Mr Floyd was heard yelling the words “I can’t breathe”, whilst beneath the full weight of police officer Derek Chauvin, who was pinning Mr Floyd down when arresting him for allegedly using a fake dollar bill.

Cllr Blake said: “The horrific death of George Floyd is a stark reminder that racism and injustice are still too prominent a feature in our world. Many of us knew this already – but it is playing out now on TV and social media across the globe. We know the USA’s long history with regard to its treatment of African Americans, but we have seen an increase in racism in our own country too, and a rise in hate crime. The Windrush scandal is our nation’s own shame.

“Now, yet again, we need to unite in our opposition and abhorrence of the prejudice that has a devastating effect on our communities. Even now, we are seeing the disproportionate impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on BAME communities.”

The brutal death of Mr Floyd was captured on video by bystanders. It has sparked global protests for justice, with many protesters and activists calling for governments to defund the police.

Cllr Blake said: “Policing in a democratic society is a central issue that this case has raised, and it is clear that over a near-decade of peaceful protest, the response from institutions in the USA has been woeful.

“The UK has its own challenges, as we in Haringey know only too well. Across the country, it is imperative that our politicians and institutions take these challenges seriously, engage with communities with good faith and respond with real conviction. We are committed to that in our borough.

Protests have taken place in Tottenham; outside the Bernie Grant Arts Centre and across local parks, with resident’s kneeling (as demonstrated by American Civil rights activist and former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick), as a symbol against police racism and brutality, as well as the oppression of Black people worldwide.

Officer Derek Chauvin and three other colleagues were fired. Chauvin has been charged with murder and manslaughter. The other police officers have been charged with aiding and abetting the death of Mr Floyd.

“We hope for a non-violent conclusion to the protests in the USA, that can result in justice not just for George and his family but for African Americans,” said Cllr Blake.

“As for the UK, and our borough, we feel the pain intensely, and we stand in peaceful solidarity. We must all learn from what is happening in the USA.”