LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged the country to “work peacefully, lawfully” to defeat racism and discrimination. Writing in the Voice, the PM said the government could not ignore the anger and “undeniable feeling of injustice” sparked by George Floyd’s killing.
But he said the cause risked being “undermined” by a minority who attack police and property during protests. The UK, he said, had made “huge strides” in tackling racism in recent decades but more had to be done.
The prime minister wrote Mr Floyd’s death had “awakened an anger and a widespread and incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice, a feeling that people from black and minority ethnic groups do face discrimination: in education, in employment, in the application of the criminal law”.
“We simply cannot ignore the depth of emotion that has been triggered by that spectacle, of a black man losing his life at the hands of the police. We who lead and who govern simply can’t ignore those feelings because in too many cases, I am afraid, they will be founded on a cold reality”, he wrote.
Thanking those who abided by social distancing while taking to the streets, the PM warned that further mass demonstrations endangered the UK’s efforts to bring the coronavirus epidemic under control.
He said he could not condone those who “hijacked” peaceful protests by breaking the law or desecrating public monuments, saying they damaged the legitimate cause that people were fighting for. “We have a democracy in this country. If you want to change the urban landscape, you can stand for election, or vote for someone who will.
While he believed the UK was a much less racist society than it was 40 years ago, the PM said he “heard” the Black Lives Matter protesters and accepted much more needed to be done to ensure everyone was treated equally. “We must also frankly acknowledge that there is so much more to do – in eradicating prejudice, and creating opportunity, and the government I lead is committed to that effort.”