Black Lives Matter Isn’t An American Catchphrase, It’s A Global Call To Action!
As an American, it’s been encouraging to see so much support for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter from folks here in Britain. But over the past few days I’ve noticed a troubling trend. Many British people are finally getting to that point where they say what they really mean. Apparently a lot of them think that Black Lives Matter, systemic racism, and an overly aggressive police force are purely American problems. Well, I’ve got news for you. “Black Lives Matter” isn’t an American catchphrase, it’s a global call to action because white supremacy runs much deeper and wider than any of us would care to admit.
I’m not going to do a deep dive into this but there should be plenty here to springboard you to further research if you’re so inclined. First of all, you can find lists online of black men and women the UK police have killed or injured while in custody. The numbers are, admittedly, much lower than America but the underlying problems are no less serious. Systemic racism is alive and well in the UK, running rampant through all levels of the justice system. And, no matter how much some might smirk at the idea of Brits taking to the streets, risking their lives during a pandemic by protesting an issue they see as an, “American problem” that’s exactly what people have done. There’s nothing funny about any of it. These problems are just as real in modern Britain as they are anywhere else.
Take Julian Cole as an example. His situation shares a few striking similarities to that of the George Floyd murder. Three Police officers held Floyd down, one with a knee on his neck, slowly murdering Floyd though he posed no threat whatsoever. Cole was said to come in at a rather unimpressive 5 feet, 5 inches tall and of a diminutive body mass. Yet when he was kicked out of a nightclub and refused a refund, six police were sent to arrest him. SIX. Sadly, the most important part of the encounter was not captured on CCTV but suffice to say that there is video of the police grabbing him, then the next available footage shows the officers dragging his limp body towards a police van. His body was limp because the officers had somehow broken Cole’s neck, eventually resulting in severe spinal injury, paralysis, and extensive brain damage.
Like Floyd, Cole posed no threat to the arresting officers, they had him outmanned and outmaneuvered. Yet they went for a weak point; his neck. And, in their aggression, they unjustly and unnecessarily took away so much. They didn’t kill him, but they robbed him of the life he had been hoping to lead, leaving him stranded in a 24 hour care facility for the rest of his days. What’s more, the police then tried to lie about it. One of his longtime friends, rapper Che Lingo released a song, in February, talking about the incident and we’ve included the music video above. One heartbreaking section reads, “Feds literally broke my bredrins neck, then lied on one of their statements, Bro how can you call that justice,”
The Guardian recorded a 10 minute video with Cole, his mother, and some of Cole’s friends. Surprisingly, his friends manage to bring up some funny moments. But mostly, it’s a lot of painful silence punctuated by stories of who Cole was before all of this and visions of who he might have been if this horror hadn’t happened to him. But the cold hard reality is that it did happen to him. It’s happened to many others and it will continue to happen to countless more until ALL OF US are willing to put aside our pride and admit that this is a problem in need of solving, in the UK as much as anywhere else. So I beg you to please stand with us and declare that #BlackLivesMatter so we can push for change before any other names are added to that damn list.