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BlackLivesMatter Events - Statement by Aamer Anwar and Kadie Johnson

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Police aim a rubber bullet gun towards a child, Long Beach, California
Police aim a rubber bullet gun towards a child, Long Beach, California, 1 June 2020

Kadie Johnson (sister of Sheku Bayoh) and Aamer Anwar (lawyer representing the Bayoh family and campaigner) issued the following statement on 4 June. A separate statement was issued jointly by Aamer Anwar, Kadie Johnson, Anasa Sarwar MSP and Humza Yousaf MSP - see below.

The Bayoh family and myself had been invited to speak at #BlackLivesMatter protest on Sunday in Glasgow and it has been incredibly hard to come to a decision on whether to attend in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

I totally understand the need to be on the streets and have been desperate to send solidarity in our thousands from Scotland to those fighting racial injustice in the USA, but also to highlight "Justice for Sheku Bayoh" here in Scotland.

But ultimately it is the slogan #BlackLivesMatter which has convinced us to say no. We believe at a time when so many are dying from COVID19, and the BAME community are disproportionately represented, it would not be right to protest in large numbers on the streets.

We have condemned the likes of Dominic Cummings or those protesting against lockdown, regulations are in place to save lives and protesting at this stage we believe would be far too dangerous.

Kadijartu Johnson- the sister of Sheku Bayoh who died in police custody 5 years ago is herself a nurse and stated the following -

"In as much as my family would like to be part of the demonstrations taking place on Sunday for Black Lives Matter, I believe that danger of the spread of Coronavirus is still too great.

As a staff nurse I know the deadly impact of the virus and I would worry about social distancing on the day and the lives of my family and other lives being put at risk. Sadly we cannot attend, nor will we encourage others to go because we believe a virtual protest would be far more effective and involve those unable to attend because of the risk.

I hope that you will join our campaign, we have fought for 5 years for justice for my dead brother Sheku and believe Black Lives Matter is as relevant in Scotland"

The most important thing you can do right now is to provide practical solidarity – use social media & hash tags, demand justice for #GeorgeFloyd but also for #ShekuBayoh, use the slogan #SolidarityfromScotland, signpost people to campaigns and donations that will actually make a difference in the USA or in Scotland- follow the Sheku Bayoh Justice Campaign on twitter and facebook as it is relaunched, educate yourself, your communities and galvanise a movement in Scotland.

However we appreciate that some people will still wish to protest and we would urge the Police not to use their powers of arrest or to issue fixed penalty notices and use the regulations to interfere with the right to protest at a time many feel so strongly about black lives matter and disproportionate policing.

The reality is that five days of civil unrest in the USA has delivered more than five years of waiting for the Scottish criminal justice system to act-

At least in the USA, the family of George Floyd know police officers will stand trial for his murder, whereas in Scotland not a single officer was suspended, arrested or will ever face trial for Sheku.

In Scotland as the society begins to wake up to racial injustice, please support for Justice for Sheku Bayoh.

I hope that one day very soon we will be able to call on people of all colours to march on the streets of Scotland in their thousands- this struggle has been going on for a very long time and isn’t going away. Stay safe”

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Statement by Aamer Anwar, Kadie Johnson, Anasa Sarwar MSP and Humza Yousaf MSP

Statement on the proposed BlackLivesMatter demonstrations issued on 4 June by Aamer Anwar (Lawyer for the Sheku Bayoh family and Campaigner), Kadie Johnson (a Nurse & sister of Sheku Bayoh who died in Police Custody), Anasa Sarwar MSP and Humza Yousaf MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Justice). This statement is independent of the statement by Aamer Anwar and Kadie Johnson that appears above.

We are united in our abhorrence at the scenes of racial injustice in the US, and stand in complete solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement and those demanding justice for George Floyd.

Like so many we want to stand in unity with millions across our planet to show solidarity with those protesting against racial injustice in the USA, but also to support those challenging racial injustice and discrimination in Scotland.

Just this week the UK Government has released a report showing that BAME lives have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. The progress we have made in Scotland, easing out of lockdown, is fragile. The rules in place are there to protect people's health and ultimately people's lives.

Therefore, as long-term anti-racist campaigners we are still urging people to protest but to use the many other methods available at this time, including digital protests.

We hope people will understand our position and explore other methods of demonstrating practical solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter.

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Photo by Richard Grant. Police aim a rubber bullet gun towards a child during a protest at Long Beach, California, 1 June 2020