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Black Lives Matter joint statement from group leaders

11 June 2020 : Council news

These words from Martin Luther King Jr. - “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now” - can fit many different times, places and situations.

They could fit the coronavirus pandemic we are still living through. A virus that doesn’t care about borders, or background or belief. It could also help explain our response – communities coming together to help and protect the most vulnerable while recognising the sacrifice of others.

But the words of Martin Luther King Jr, uttered more than 55 years ago, were calling for every member of society, of whatever colour, to fight injustice for the benefit of everyone.

The global Black Lives Matter demonstration, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, but built up over decades, shows us every day that the battle for equality and justice must be fought for harder than ever.

In Somerset, where 98% of people are white, it can be easy to ignore this problem. Yet a society that holds racist views, that judges people by the colour of their skin, is a society that cannot be inclusive, compassionate or forward thinking.

For us to be the caring society we want to be then we must understand, appreciate and celebrate people’s differences. Somerset is a vibrant county – with cultural influences from across the world.

So what can we do? We can confront and call out racist behaviours and attitudes if we see them in person or online. We can educate people on the absurdity of racism as well as its dangers. We can show our support for the Black Lives Matter campaign, whatever the colour of our skin.

Many of our essential services rely on people hailing from all over the world – this includes many of our own council staff. We have successful businesses owned and run by a diverse collection of committed and hard-working individuals and families who’ve made Somerset their home. We are proud to be a welcoming, tolerant and inclusive county.

As the political group leaders at Somerset West and Taunton Council we stand with the peaceful demonstrators lobbying for justice and peace for black people.

Cllr Anthony Trollope-Bellew (Cons), Cllr Gwil Wren (Independent), Cllr Libby Lisgo (Labour), Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts (Lib Dem and Leader of the Council).