George Floyd’s murder moved the world | Lord Simon Woolley


What happened on the streets of Minneapolis a year ago today would send shock waves right across the world.

The murder of an unarmed man, who presented no danger to the law enforcement officer Derek Chauvin, highlighted not just the inhumanity and brutality from Chauvin, but also the American system and in particular the criminal justice system. A system that, for as long as Black people can remember, has given the police the green light to use brutal and at times lethal force for the most innocuous encounter.

Floyd’s murder demonstrated the extreme narrative of systemic racism, and the gradients of such a rigged system that African-Americans feel on a daily basis in education, health, housing and jobs.

The reason why the news of George’s death exploded here was because, in no small measure, we have a similar system that continues to devalue Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, particularly Black people and Muslims.

But something extraordinary occurred as the protests ensued. First, those protestors that rallied around the Black Lives Matter movement were both black and white. Secondly they forced us to debate not just the brutally of our law enforcement system that too often engages in racial profiling, but also to have the greatest debate ever about our past, its institutions and how they are still negatively influencing the present.

Astonishingly, and I must say to my surprise, many in our society looked at these two factors; police brutality, and institutional racism, and concluded things must dramatically change.

My reflection of that time is that Covid-19 laid bare structural race inequalities and George Floyd’s murder accumulated to a perfect storm, in which many white people said, ‘ I accept the lived experiences for many who don’t look like me, and it seems they are continually facing a raw deal and we as a society must change’.

The 21st century civil rights protesters led the way. Big business followed, as did academic and cultural institutions who began their own reflection on how they lock out many and lock in the privileged few. Would this be an historical moment for race equality? Not if the Government could have its way.

The dishonest Dr Sewell Report was the Government’s response to the protest, and it’s starting point; ‘Institutional racism no longer exists’, was written even before the Commissioners had gathered.

Thankfully, British people, and almost every institution and business saw through the report’s denial of lived experiences, with one commentator stating the report was driven by ‘policy based evidence’, rather than evidence based policy.

In spite of the Government not wanting to seize this historical moment for great change, the death of George Floyd has moved our society to demand it. In life George Floyd was just another Black body deemed expendable, but in death this Black Brother has become a symbol for justice. Not just for racial equality and respect for each other, but justice, period.

God bless your soul George Floyd and we promise in your name we’ll continue to fight for racial justice and equality for everyone.

Simon Woolley


A call to action...

For nearly 25 years OBV have fought to ensure Black and minority ethnic participation and representation in civic society. Efforts in continuing to do so though, relies on your help. That way we can continue this fight for greater race equality. What would give us a tremendous boost is if today, you made that small donation yourselves, but even more importantly if you encouraged others to do likewise.