On the 3 June 2020, I wrote to Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, concerning the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, and the dangerous response of the American President and police forces. I have urged Ms Truss to end the export all policing and security equipment to the US that may be used for this repression.
You can see my letter in full below:
Dear Secretary of State,
I write to you about the need for urgent action to prevent the export of dangerous items to the United States of America, where they may be being used to repress peaceful protests and in violation of the rights of protestors and journalists.
As you will know, the despicable murder of George Floyd on the 25 May has sparked huge protests in every part of the United States.
I understand the deep pain, anger and fear that people of colour, and others, are feeling and expressing through protests across the United States, and now across the world. I hope you, like me, stand in solidarity with all of the victims of racist police violence in the United States, here in the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.
The response of the President of the United States, initially tweeting that ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts,’ was utterly, if unsurprisingly, horrifying. Mr Trump’s threat to send in the US army to quell protests, in the context of the police violence that has already met many peaceful protests across the country, is one that I believe the UK government must take very seriously.
I believe, on the basis of very extensive video evidence and reporting, that there are clear violations of human rights already taking place in the United States. Journalists alongside peaceful protestors are being attacked indiscriminately with rubber and pepper bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, as well as physical objects such as riot gear. These attacks have caused serious and often permanent injuries. In many cases, the purpose of these attacks appears to be political repression, not the use of reasonable force to protect the community.
The UK is bound as a matter of law and policy to refuse exports of all policing and security equipment that may be used for repression. There is enough evidence to freeze all existing licenses and suspend the issuance of all new licenses for equipment that may have been used to repress peaceful protests or violate human rights, or may be used for those purposes in the near future.
The Prime Minister said in the House of Commons, at Prime Minister’s Questions, that black lives matter. These cannot be just words. They stand for the rightful passion, commitment, and sacrifice for justice and equality of so many around the world, and in our communities. We must now take this concrete action to show our commitment to those principles and continue to act accordingly over the months and years to come.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.