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Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Angry. That’s the only way to describe how I and a large portion of the country feel right now.

We are in the middle of a pandemic that - because of the way our society exists - affects BAME people more than any other group.

People are genuinely filled with rage, and let's be honest; who can blame them? Is anyone shocked anymore to hear that another Black man has been murdered by those who are supposed to “Serve and Protect”?

The 4 former officers involved in the killing of George Floyd have now all been charged. But we shouldn't be in this situation yet again. The Police shouldn't have yet another unnecessary death on their hands.

Chris Rock put it better than I could:

"Bad apple? That’s a lovely name for murderer. That almost sounds nice. I’ve had a bad apple. It was tart, but it didn’t choke me out. Here’s the thing. Here’s the thing. I know being a cop is hard. I know that shit’s dangerous. I know it is, okay? But some jobs can’t have bad apples."

There have been mass protests and demonstrations across the country, and they've shown that people's anger cannot be contained. There are many reasons to be angry: the mishandling of the crisis, the government lies, the excuses for special advisors and the attempt to hide reports on how BAME people are affected by Covid-19. But this latest murder is what launched this reaction. It has brought the inequality and injustice that is ever-present in our society to the fore.

There are demonstrations planned for this Saturday in Newcastle and across the region. The information available on social media states that these are peaceful, safe and socially-distanced events, as we have seen in Liverpool and other places.

NEAR will not be attending in any official capacity, because this isn't about groups. It's about people. It's about how they feel and how they want to show that they care. It's a clear and united statement that this shouldn't be happening, that we have to draw the line.

I myself am shielding with my family, but at 1pm on Saturday I know that people will be kneeling*, speaking and showing their solidarity with the family and memory of George Floyd and so many others. Alongside them, I'll be hoping for a better tomorrow. And I know North East Against Racism will play a positive and effective role in bringing that to our region.

In solidarity,

Calvin Lawson

NEAR Interim Chair

*In a safe and socially-distanced manner.

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