In solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests
Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the LRU stands in unconditional solidarity with all those protesting across the United States against the police killings of Black people and the relentless white supremacist violence of the American state. We also stand in solidarity with Black people, including many of our members, fighting racism and police and state violence here in the UK.
The extremely violent and heavily militarised response of the police in many US cities is the behaviour of an institution that is irredeemably white supremacist, cracking down on those who are pushing for racial justice.
The uprisings, which have included widespread protest, as well as direct action to obstruct police forces from functioning, are a wholly justified expression of pain and outrage. We refuse to draw a line between ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ ways for Black people to mourn, protest, and fight against their own oppression.
We understand that systemic racism is not confined to the United States, but is also woven into the fabric of the UK. Criminalisation, incarceration, and murder by the state is just as present a danger for our Black sisters, brothers, and non-binary siblings here in London and throughout the UK, with Black people in Britain imprisoned at a more disproportionate rate than in the US. As long as we keep denying the UK’s colonial history, we will not be able to dismantle racism. We will not be able to transform a system that was built on the backs of Black people, and built to oppress.
During lockdown, we know that Black people in London have been fined at twice the rate of white people. We know that police officers have recently been granted extended Stop And Search powers in our boroughs – powers which disproportionately target Black people. We have seen the killing of Belly Mujinga, who was spat at while working for TfL by someone claiming to have Coronavirus. The consequences of this health crisis are deeply racist, and deeply anti-Black.
Monitoring by Inquest shows that over the last 30 years, 1,741 deaths in custody have taken place in the UK with zero prosecutions for murder/manslaughter. The United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC) organises annual rallies with the next one taking place on October 31st. We urge you to learn the names and learn the stories. Rashan Charles. Sarah Reed. Sean Rigg. Joy Gardner. Edson da Costa. Mark Duggan. Mzee Mohamed. Say their names and show up.
The UK’s housing system is a key place where the violence of structural racism takes place:
- People in Black households are six times more likely to experience overcrowding compared to white households.
- The ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ condition placed on the visas of many of our members and people in our communities prevents them from receiving housing benefit and universal credit, putting them at greater risk of eviction and homelessness.
- The housing system prioritises profit and incentivises gentrification, forcing Black people from their homes, their support networks and their communities, as many of our members experience. Families are driven out of their estates, their boroughs, and even their cities.
- In London, 30% of all homeless families are Black, while making up only 13% of London’s total population.
- ‘Right to Rent’ legislation is a key pillar of the Hostile Environment, meaning that estate agents and landlords check the migration status of renters. Courts have ruled that this legislation is racially discriminatory and makes it harder for Black people, and other people of colour, to access rented housing.
- The lack of renters’ rights, and poor enforcement of those that we do have, allows landlords and agents to operate in discriminatory and racist ways, with little fear of repercussion. Anti-Black discrimination in the private rented sector is rife.
- Black households and communities across the UK are disproportionately exposed to higher and more dangerous levels of air pollution. In London, while being 13.3% of the population, Black people make up 15.3% of people exposed to levels of nitrous oxide that breach EU limits.
As a union we are deeply committed to opposing anti-Black racism, both the structural racism we see in the housing system and wider society, and the racism that shows up within our own spaces and UK social movements and unions. We will continue to organise for an end to the Hostile Environment in housing, and will continue to talk over the days and weeks about what more we can do as a union.
Here are some ways we can all offer concrete support and solidarity at this time:
- anti-racist efforts in your local area
- educating and radicalising yourself, your family and loved ones about racism, anti-blackness, colonialism and police brutality – especially our non-Black siblings.
UFFC’s Memorial Family Fund, for families of those who have been killed in police custody in the UK:
Stopwatch, organising resisting racist policing practices in the UK –
JOIN THE LONDON RENTERS UNION
We’re a members-led, campaigning union and we’re taking action to make sure all Londoners have a decent, affordable and secure home. Join our community today and become part of the movement to transform the housing system.
The signatories include leaders of trade unions Unite, Unison, NEU, GMB and CWU, tenant unions London Renters Union, Greater Manchester Housing Action and ACORN, and groups campaigning on housing policy such as New Economics Foundation and Generation Rent
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