Firefighters take the knee

FBU condemns murder of George Floyd

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has spoken out about the atrocious killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by white police officers in Minnesota, USA, which sparked anti-racism protests across the world. 

The FBU’s Black and Ethnic Minority Members (B&EMM) section said they were “appalled and disturbed by the horrific murder”, while the union’s executive council condemned the “terrible oppression” that has taken place for centuries in the United States. 

The executive council called on the trade unionists to speak out, saying “it is the duty of the labour movement internationally to take an unequivocal anti-racist stance and root out racism from every part of society” 

Firefighters in more than 40 UK fire stations participated in a “take the knee” protest organised by Stand Up to Racism, referencing NFL player Colin Kaepernick's silent protest against police brutality where he knelt during the US national anthem. 

In the US, dozens of firefighters protested against police brutality in front of Brooklyn City Hall, after a Brooklyn fire engine was filmed honking in support for Black Lives Matter protestors. Spokane firefighters joined protests with signs saying “Firefighters stand with you”. 

FBU National B&EMM Committee said: 

“As the representatives of the Fire Brigades Union Black and Ethnic Minority Section, we are appalled and disturbed by the horrific murder of George Floyd, killed under the knee of a police officer. 

“We stand in full solidarity with the family of George Floyd and all the communities across the United States of America marching for justice and demanding an end to police violence and harassment of black citizens. 

“In the UK, BAME communities have suffered similar racism, mistreatment and injustice at the hand of police and other agencies. Fundamental change must be made in the way policing is government and administrated. 

“The injustice and prejudice black and ethnic minority communities are subject to, both overtly and institutionally, has been normalised for too long. 

“The taking of black lives with impunity has been normalised for too long.” 

The FBU’s executive council said: 

“The FBU condemns the brutal murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota on 25 May. The video shows police kneeling on George Floyd’s windpipe and asphyxiating him for more than eight minutes. The police officer who pressed his knee into Gorge Floyd has been charged with second degree murder and the three other officers on the scene during this killing have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. 

“George Floyd’s death is the latest in a bitter history of police killings of black people in the United States. Black Americans have suffered terrible oppression for centuries in the US. Black people are more likely to be arrested and receive harsher sentences for the same crime than whites. Black Americans make up almost a third of the country's prison population. Real wages for black men and women in the US are 20-30% lower than for white women and men. Racism is reflected in all aspects of American society. 

“George Floyd’s death has sparked waves of protest by working-class Black Americans and anti-racist campaigners across the United States, and found a strong echo in the UK. The FBU supports the demonstrations that have taken place in many towns and cities across the UK. The union is proud of our members, who have showed their solidarity by taking the knee and joining other protests. 

“The FBU supports the statement of the Minneapolis Amalgamated Transit Union, whose members supported the protests in their state: 

“’Police brutality is unacceptable! This system has failed all of us in the working class, from the Coronavirus to the economic crisis we are facing. But this system has failed People of Colour and Black Americans and Black youth more than anyone else. More than ever we need a new Civil Rights Movement. A Civil Rights Movement that is joined with the labour movement and independent of the corporate establishment’s political parties.’ 

“The FBU has a strong tradition fighting against racism and for working class unity. We are proud of the black and ethnic minority members within our union and of our union structures which assist them in organising. It is the duty of the labour movement internationally to take an unequivocal anti-racist stance and root out racism from every part of society. 

“The FBU stands in solidarity with George Floyd. The union sends our condolences to his loved ones. The FBU stands for #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd. The union demands #BlackLivesMatter.” 

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