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Racism is not an American disease

Council leader shares thoughts on George Floyd protests and 'systemic racism'

02 June, 2020

• I know our community will be feeling heartbreak, anger, and powerlessness watching more black lives stolen because of a failure to deal with systemic racism.

In the last week the world watched George Floyd murdered by a police officer meant to protect him and uphold justice. And we have seen the horror of a US President, who has courted white supremacists, inciting violence against protestors rather than addressing racial injustices.

We can, and must, show solidarity with those in the US facing this by donating to organisations like The Minnesota Freedom Fund, which helps to pay bail for protestors who don’t have funds. But we should also put that anger into addressing racial inequality in our own community.

Racism is not an American disease. Racist hate crime is on the rise in our borough.

The streets that feel safe to me feel very different to some in our community. Young black people growing up here tell me what it feels like to have the Police called when they are meeting friends and to have security tail them when they go into a shop.

Work we did last year showed not only were young black people disproportionately represented in our youth justice system, but they also received more serious sentences.

Over the last year alone we have lost six young black people in our community to violent crime. We have been working with those impacted by violence to address the root causes and bring trauma-informed practice to our schools, youth work and community policing. But there is a long way to go to make this loss the national scandal it should be, and address all the factors that have led us to this point.

Covid-19 has shone a new light on existing inequalities, with a disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and Minority (BAME) communities, partly as a result of long-term social, economic and health inequalities in our community. On top of this, Camden’s black residents are more likely to live in overcrowded accommodation, and more likely to be in lower-paid jobs.

None of this is happening by chance, it is a result of structural inequality.

Over the last year, Camden Council has been working alongside Camden’s Black Workers’ group to increase representation at every level of the council. We are working across public health and community groups to address the disproportionate impact of Covid. And we will continue to work to ensure that black history is celebrated not just as a one off but all year round, that we expand political representation, that every organisation in our borough has a strategy to increase diversity, and that we are investing in our BAME communities and their futures.

Tonight (Tuesday) our council building will be lit purple in memory of George Floyd and to show our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

And our promise in Camden is to work alongside our community to turn our anger into action to address racial injustice.

Leader of Camden Council


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