Black lives matter firefighters take the knee

I can't breathe

How many times have we had these chilling last words from innocent black victims? Desperately gasping for air, before dying at the hands of another. Perpetuated by the individuals and very institutions that are ‘sworn to protect’.

For eight minutes and 46 seconds George Floyd and bystanders pleaded at Minneapolis police officers to get off him. They didn’t listen, and his life was extinguished beneath a uniformed knee. 

Members of the Fire Brigades Union’s black and ethnic minority section across the UK are appalled, hurt, and angry. We are still trying to make sense of this brutal injustice. 

Another precious life was taken too soon. How can this violence still be meted upon members of the black community, at will, and with impunity? We are running out of space to write down the names of our black brothers and sisters who have been so cruelly taken at the hands of the police. 

The denigration of black lives seems never ending. 

Diversity brings strength and resilience to communities. Racism and hate seeks only to divide us. We must not allow the sinister agenda of those who perpetuate this toxic hate to go unchallenged. Instead we must unite.

It is time to drive out hate, injustice, discrimination and advocate a new future and society where all are valued regardless of their race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. This may require difficult conversations. But they are necessary. 

Right now, as people protest in the United States and here in the UK, we must demand change to the way policing is administrated and governed. It is not just the case of a ‘few bad apples’, but a whole justice system that has become rotten.

Black people are over-represented in deaths in custody and are subject to harassment from the police and security agencies, such as through the use of stop and search. If policing by consent requires trust, these experiences show that trust is being undermined every day. 

In the memory of George Floyd and all who have been killed at the hands of racism we must channel our emotions into productive action. 

That means first making our voices heard. And second, making an unapologetic and uncompromising case for change.

Black Lives Matter. 

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