Wadham SU official statement regarding #BlackLivesMatter, 22nd June 2020
Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Wadham SU feels it is our duty to reaffirm that we are absolutely opposed to racism in any form, be it systemic or overt. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Samuel DuBose, and so many more have died at the hands of US police. The protests following George Floyd’s death in 2020 are not the first instance of mass protests against the injustice of police brutality; they follow Marquette Frye’s death in 1967, Rodney King in 1992, and the aforementioned Michael Brown in 2014. As members of an institution which has profited from slavery and colonialism, we intend to use our platform as wielders of this power to directly take action against racial injustice, both within Oxford and the wider world. Wadham SU recognises that, despite what some may have us believe, the UK is as complicit in anti-blackness as the US. Shukri Abdi, Belly Mujinga, Stephen Lawrence, Mark Duggan, and many others have lost their lives due to the racism that exists within this country. Their deaths must not be in vain. The Independent Office for Police Conduct in the UK is currently investigating six separate instances of alleged excessive police force against black men in the Midlands. It is necessary that any communities like Wadham SU use our power to demand that these injustices are brought to an end. We therefore intend to actively contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, having already prepared to donate around £1,800 directly to UK-specific BLM causes. George Floyd had been unresponsive for minutes before the officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, as video evidence showed. The officer who killed George Floyd was initially charged with third-degree murder, for which the punishment is a fine, or a maximum of 25 years imprisonment. 25 years of imprisonment is not enough in the way of reprimand. Racism and anti-blackness are issues which exist worldwide, and we are committed in supporting all members of Wadham SU and of the wider community who face these issues, whether that be in the UK or elsewhere.
We implore each and every person who is reading this: sign petitions; if you are able, donate to anti-racist causes; read, watch, listen to, and learn from the experiences of black people. Use your voices to encourage those around you to do the same. Wadham SU stands with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and will continue to do so until justice is achieved.
This statement was written by the President-Elect (Aaron Kai Shankar), and PoCRE officers (Keisha Asare and Laila March)