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Statement from John Halsall, Leader of Wokingham Borough Council

Statement from John Halsall, Leader of Wokingham Borough Council

19 June 2020
[ Zoom ]
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“I wish to clarify my position on Black Lives Matters: I completely support the message, principles and all the aims of Black Lives Matters in the UK. I have always been opposed to discrimination in all its forms and understand the need today to have a clear focus of tackling racism wherever it is found. 


“I recognise the pain that racism has caused across the borough and beyond; I sense the injustices. I commit myself and this authority to understanding them and combating them.


“We are proud of the work we do with the BME Forum and have worked with its chair and vice-chair to produce the Tackling Racism Matter survey. This will give a voice to anybody who has experienced racism in any form as well as anybody with views on how this issue can be tackled. It is deliberately an open, listening exercise that acknowledges there will be problems we have not seen and answers we have not thought of. I appeal to everybody to take part.


“I was as shocked and disgusted at the killing of George Floyd as any other right thinking person and it is my sincere hope that the world can change for the better as a result of the outcry it has produced. Many of the aspirations of Black Lives Matters in the US are shared with those in the UK and I fully support those.


“But I must explain why, as an authority, we will not be committing to the gesture politics of stating support for the Black Lives Matters as it exists as a political movement in the USA. This is because it is a political movement over which we have no control and which is campaigning on some issues that are peculiar to the US (for example, the movement’s prominent campaign to ‘Defund the Police’). These are issues that it is not right for WBC to take a position on and I will not bow to the easy option of doing so.


My focus is our residents, and our ongoing commitment to strive for equality and celebrate diversity.”


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