Like so many, I was shocked horrified and sickened by the murder of George Floyd in America and the violence that many police services in the USA have used against justified protests.
Over the last month I have received thousands of emails from West Ham residents, the largest number have been about the Black Lives Matter movement and raised the deaths of Belly Mujinga and Shukri Yayha Abdi.
Belly was Thameslink worker, ordered to work on the concourse at Victoria station despite having a respiratory condition. Belly was allegedly spat and coughed at while doing her job, she subsequently tragically died of COVID-19. We know Belly wasn’t provided with protective equipment. She didn’t get the protection she deserved.
Shukri was a refugee whose family fled violence in Somalia and found safety in Bury. In 2017, when she was just 12, Shukri drowned in a river. There are serious allegations that children bullied her into the water even though she couldn’t swim, and that this was the final act in a pattern of racist bullying not stopped by Shukri’s school.
Belly and Shukri’s families and communities have not yet seen justice done. I have written to the police and coroner to ask them to ensure that this happens quickly.
Racism and injustice is not just about individuals like Belly and Shukri, but about Government policies and actions. We need to teach the histories of all our communities in our schools so that the inequalities and racism in our society can be fully understood.
The most urgent need for action is on the unequal impact of COVID. Here in Newham, many of the deaths of our neighbours and loved ones might have been prevented if we had understood the impact of the virus better on Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority communities. Second waves of the infection are appearing in many places around the world, and I am desperately concerned that unless the Government acts now, these same unequal impacts will strike again in the coming months.
There is real fear and anger in our communities. This Government must act now, to make sure it protects all our communities and provide for a more equal society