Kent Equality Cohesion Council, North Kent Caribbean Network and Cohesion Plus organised for community members to come together with the appropriate social distance measures in place to remember and reflect on the tragic killing of George Floyd at the hands of American police officers in Minneapolis. With the Black Lives Matter movement spreading globally the short event provided an opportunity for those attending to gather for a moment of silence and the symbolic taking of the knee as a sign of solidarity.
Gurvinder Sandher, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I was humbled that we were able to work with community partners to pull something together. It is imperative that we stand together and call out the racism that still exists in 2020! All our work is about diverse communities coming together as we passionately believe that there is more that unites us than divides us. I was very heartened by the positive response to this issue by Arts Council England and I think it is imperative that those who believe in equality, human and civil rights stand up, and speak out on this vital and necessary issue. It is our duty and responsibility to evolve and progress our society and leave it a better place for those after us.”
Over the last few days we have been contacted by key community partners and colleagues in relation to how we could show solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. We felt, as an organisation that strives to fight discrimination and unite diverse communities that it was our responsibility to recognise the racism that is still present in our society and condemn it in the strongest way. We hope that by joining our voices to this vital cause we can raise awareness and address racism at its root by continuing to have conversations at home, in our work places and schools.”
Michelle Bramble, Chair of the North Kent Caribbean Network and also Cohesion Plus Board Member who addressed the event said, “This case in particular has hit us hard. How many times do we have to hear the words ‘I can’t breathe’ before people begin to accept that all lives don’t matter until black lives matter. The responsibility lies with everyone, not just people of colour so I’m asking everyone to educate themselves, have a conversation and more importantly challenge racist behaviour with the support of our community partners. The pandemic has changed the way the world works forever, as has the killing of George Floyd and countless others who did not go viral. We cannot go back to how things were before.”
According to Alan Pughsley the Chief Constable for Kent who was also in attendance “It was important to me for us to take part in this show of solidarity. We at Kent Police stand with all those who are horrified at the manner in which George Floyd lost his life. It is right there is accountability and justice should follow”
“I am fortunate to lead a Force whose officers share my passion and pride in policing. I am extremely proud of this and our communities can be confident we listen, we work with them to solve problems and we are accountable for the service we provide. We are never complacent and always strive to be better.”