British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hears the anti-racist protesters, while at the same time condemning those who break the law in the protests, he said on Monday.
People around the world have been protesting against racism and police violence following the death of George Floyd, a black American who was killed by a white police officer in the United States in May.
“You are right, we are all right, to say Black Lives Matter,” Johnson said, “and to all those who have chosen to protest peacefully and who have insisted on social distancing – I say, yes of course I hear you, and I understand.”
“In this country and around the world his dying words – I can’t breathe – have awakened an anger and a widespread and incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice,” he said.
“And we who lead and who govern simply can’t ignore those feelings because in too many cases, I am afraid, they will be founded on a cold reality,” Johnson added.
“But I must also say that we are in a time of national trial, when for months this whole country has come together to fight a deadly plague,” he warned. “After such sacrifice, we cannot now let it get out of control.”
Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities were “at the forefront of the struggle against coronavirus – whether in healthcare or transport or social care or any of the other essential services that have kept our country going,” the Prime Minister commented, adding that “it is BAME communities, tragically, that have paid a disproportionate price.”
“So no, I will not support those who flout the rules on social distancing, for the obvious reason that we risk a new infection at a critical time and just as we have made huge progress,” he said.
Nor will he support or give in to lawbreakers, people attacking police or those vandalising public monuments, he underlined.
Johnson was referring to the unbolting of a statue of a slave trader in Bristol (south-west England) and the defacement of the statue of Winston Churchill near the London Parliament last weekend.
Some 200 anti-racist rallies mobilised more than 100,000 people across the United Kingdom on Saturday and Sunday and resulted in 135 arrests.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Tuesday the creation of a commission to make the city’s monuments and streets more reflective of the diversity of the population.
Khan pointed out the capital’s diversity, while
“Our capital’s diversity is our greatest strength, yet our statues, road names and public spaces reflect a bygone era,” Khan said.
The Brussels Times