A Statement from Cohesion Plus and the North Kent Caribbean Network on thier event around the Black Lives Matter campaign

On Thursday 4th June in Gravesend’s Fort Gardens, the Kent Equality Cohesion Council, North Kent Caribbean Network and Cohesion Plus organised an event for a limited, invited number of community members to come together with the appropriate social distancing measures in place, to show our support for the diverse communities as well as remember and reflect on the tragic killing of George Flyod at the hand of American police officers in Minneapolis.

We are incredibly grateful and proud that the Chief Constable of Kent Alan Pughsley and colleagues attended to show solidarity with the members of the community that were invited to attend. It is important and necessary at this time that strong leadership is shown and that we remind others to call out social injustices where they exist.

All our work is about diverse communities coming together as we passionately believe that there is more that unites us than divides us. We were very heartened by the positive response to this issue by Kent Police and other partners and we think it is imperative that those who believe in equality, human civil rights and justice stand up, and speak out on this vital issue. It is our inherent duty and responsibility to educate and contribute towards a progressive society to ensure there is fairness and equality for all as well as future generations. The Chief Constable and his team helped us take that vital step on the 4th June by taking a knee, a symbol that speaks of humility and respect – not submission or surrender.

The response on the whole has been very positive, with members from the community inspired and comforted at a time, which has in many areas led to violence and conflict. This, added to impact that COVID-19 has had on BAME communities means that we need inspirational leaders to show their solidarity and support for the diverse communities within the County.

It is however with great sadness that we have witnessed several sensationalised, negative and bias articles in both our local and national press that we feel need to write this statement. We advocate the need for ongoing conversations about race, social inequalities and injustice and the media coverage so far shows just how much work we still have to do. We will continue to strive towards our goal of social and racial equality because it is the moral, responsible and right thing to do.

We cannot right the wrongs of the past, but we can help to build a better future. 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 workplaces and schools. We strongly believe that there is more that unites us than divides and that as communities, we are stronger when we work together.

Gurvinder Sandher
CEO of Kent Equality Cohesion Council
Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus

Michelle Bramble
Chair of North Kent Caribbean Network