Opinion: We must stand with BAME community

West Ham United have outlined their anti-racism and educational initiative to Unmesh Desai.

West Ham United have outlined their anti-racism and educational initiative to Unmesh Desai. - Credit: Archant

It has been extremely troubling to see the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on BAME communities, with British Bangladeshis being the worst affected.

Race, class, poverty and deprivation have all combined to create this terrible and tragic situation, and it has been disappointing to see the government’s inertia when it comes to acting to address the underlying and systemic factors behind it.

That same toxic mixture has sparked the outpouring of anger and grief we have seen expressed worldwide following the appalling murder of George Floyd at the hands of US law enforcement.

At a recent meeting of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, I expressed my solidarity with George Floyd’s family and with all peaceful protesters and took the knee outside City Hall later that day.

The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Dame Cressida Dick, attended the meeting and Assembly Members, including myself, raised the issue of the disproportionate use of police enforcement towards BAME Londoners, including stop and search, section 60 orders, fines and arrests during lockdown, and the deployment of tasers.

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I have been disgusted to see attacks on our police by alcohol-fuelled right-wing thugs at the Cenotaph and across Central London.

In the build-up to this, I had written to all professional London football clubs to ask them to take a stand against this violent behaviour.

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Many clubs have responded, and I was pleased to hear from West Ham who detailed the anti-racism and educational initiatives they have been undertaking across the community.

The growing debate around statues is important, but we must not let it distract us from tackling the very real need to reform Britain’s institutions so that we can stamp out the systemic and institutional racism that still blights our society.

In saying Black Lives Matter with all the necessary conviction, we must also take the appropriate action to ensure all our citizens are treated equally, in all aspects of life.

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