Hi. It’s good as always to catch up with you. It’s pretty inspiring to see that worldwide protests against police brutality and racism are still taking place. I’m still over the moon that police abolition and defunding is a growing topic of conversation and seeing autonomous police free zones emerge in the US is pretty exciting. Maybe a better world is coming.
Before this blog heads back into the realms of Thai boxing once again I wanted to take the opportunity to first remind you that if you think “all lives matter” is an appropriate response to Black Lives Matter your absolutely part of the problem. You see, black lives have never mattered enough.
The murder of George Floyd and our ongoing struggles against the police was the main reason I wrote my speech for the protest that took place here on the 7th. Being mixed race I’ve experienced racism a lot of my life, and as some of my family are African American I wanted to get my thoughts on George’s murder and the struggles of my brothers and sisters out to a wide audience.
I wrote about how this felt last week, and if you want to catch some of my speech you can find it here. Below is the speech in full. It was a labour of love that just as with all things martial came from my heart. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Have a good week, home train hard and just like the last time.. I’ll see you on that road.
Black Lives Matter protest speech, 07/06/20 Bristol read to 10,000 beautiful people.
“On the 25th of May 2020 George Floyd was choked to death by officer Derek Chavin. I watched as Chavin, like it really wasn’t a thing at all, pressed his knee into George’s neck. I realized after around 2 minutes with mounting horror I was witnessing a murder.
“Why isn’t anyone helping? Get the cop off him!” I yelled at the video like they could all hear me. Like we were in the same room. On the same street. then I saw the photo of the other 3 officers holding George down. When George Floyd couldn’t breathe I couldn’t either.
This is not the first time a black man, a human has lost their lives at the hands of the police. We remember Michael Brown and Ferguson. We remember Mark Duggan. There are so many names and so many beautiful black faces we will never forget. How can we carry the weight on our shoulders? How can we tell our children to respect the police when we know they want to kill us?
I’ve watched the events of the past couple of weeks unfold at points like an apocalyptic end of days movie. Last week, my cousin in Louisville, a strong black woman messaged me on Facebook. “John,” she wrote “Remember I am in America. 7 people were shot at a protest for Breonna Taylor yesterday..” I felt my stomach churn. I felt the rage rise up when she told me she’d been on the sharp end of racist abuse. That she was frightened for her family. I felt helpless. I felt powerless. I couldn’t breathe…
Martin Luther King once said that riots are the voices of the unheard. We should remember that these words were spoken from a place of truth. There is a line in the sand, a thin blue line if you will that is a burning fuse and as events have unfolded, as we wait for another defense of police brutality, of inhumanity remember that the police are the escalators, the agitators, the fragile white victims “just following orders”. Remember that police are the problem. The police don’t change, but we can fight for change. We can demand it.
The problems we see in America do not exist in a vacuum. The UK is a pioneer in inequality. The systemic racism of the police is just as common here as it is in Minneapolis. As it is in New York. As it is in Louisville. Malcolm X once said that the struggle for black liberation is a human rights issue. Never has this seemed more apparent than right here and right now. My father lived through apartheid, he survived the white minorities supremacist machine. We know so-called authority can make monsters of people. We know because we have just seen a monster kill George Floyd.
My own experiences of the police over the course of my life, in particular over the past few years has not been a good one. From regular stop searches in my home town of Portsmouth to fitting a description simply because that description was a mixed-race male to fit-ups, targeting and harassment from Avon and Somerset police because of my colour and anti-racist activism it’s fair to say I know the police are not here to protect me. They only protect themselves!
Last October, the United Friends and family campaign and Netpol (the network for police monitoring) stated Since 1991 on average, there has been a death a week at the hands of the police. Let that sink in for a minute. A death a week. Over 1500 deaths and still no convictions. The system we find ourselves in, that we are constantly fighting against has protected those who abuse their power for too long. You cannot reform a system and an organization that was never meant to be reformed.
I believe we need real alternatives because we are at the point now where it is clear the problem is policing itself. We cannot allow them to police our communities without accountability anymore. If the death of George Floyd has taught me one thing it’s that when we stand together we can hold power to account. We can shake their racist system down to it’s very foundations. If they won’t change it then we will! No justice no peace!”