On 20th April 2021, a US jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of all charges in the murder of George Floyd last year.
The Race Equality Network (REN) is deeply relieved that Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. Anything less than this verdict would have been unacceptable and a cause for widespread anger and distress for everyone who knew George and everyone who is currently in this fight for equality. This verdict doesn’t mean the fight for equality is over, but the conviction has given an element of hope that accountability can be reached and used as a springboard for further action.
Why is this verdict so important?
There are countless examples of injustice where people in positions of power have not been held accountable for their actions, especially relating to institutional racism within the police or other institutions in our society. With an increased presence on social media and many people more attached to the news than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd’s murder captured a huge audience across the world, and there was a lot riding on this trial. To say this verdict was a positive moment isn’t right as this should never have happened in the first place, and that is why there is a lot more work to do.
What does it mean for the UK?
Sometimes it’s hard to relate events that happen in the US to our life in the UK, but institutional racism is as much of a problem here as it is there. Each year on the 22nd April, the UK remembers Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in London in a racially-motivated attack in 1993. Stephen Lawrence Day is one of many calls to action in the UK for challenging institutional racism.
There is a large network of organisations and individuals in Bradford and the UK more widely that are dedicated to anti-racism work, and the work of this network needs to be amplified. REN supports several partners who are active in hate crime reporting, mental health counselling, education support for Black and Asian students and many other projects.
What happens now?
The straightforward answer is that we mustn’t stop here. Organisations and institutions here in the UK need to look internally at their structures and behaviours and make necessary changes. Here in the voluntary sector in Bradford, REN have noticed an increase in demand for training sessions on unconscious racial bias, understanding inequality and institutional racism, and a move to eradicate the term BAME due its outdated, reductive nature. Learning about these things is a start but ultimately action is needed as a follow up, it cannot be a tick box exercise or one-time conversation.
REN is part of the Bradford Equalities Group and works with a range of partners from the Voluntary Community Sector (VCS), Bradford Council, University of Bradford, Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust and many more, to ensure that addressing inequality is at the heart of the actions of all the strategic partnerships.