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Dr Kate Hudson
CND General Secretary
Kate Hudson has been General Secretary of CND since September 2010. Prior to this she served as the organisation's Chair from 2003. She is a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner nationally and internationally.

As the pandemic continues to turn our world upside down, we are seeing a global uprising sparked by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd was asphyxiated by a white police officer who knelt on his neck depriving him of oxygen for over 9 minutes. The murder of black people by police officers in the States is routine but this murder has set off the biggest anti-racism protests seen in the United States since the 1960s civil rights era. Within days ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests have spread across the globe through Africa and Latin America and Europe.

In the UK a spontaneous movement of tens of thousands of young people has taken to the streets opposing racism, police brutality and calling for social justice and social change. As in the States the movement is black-led and is multi-racial and it is growing. What the pandemic and this murder has revealed is that millions of people are no longer prepared to accept the structurally racist and unequal system that confronts them.

In the US the first demand was that all four police officers who were involved in the arrest of George Floyd should be charged. Here the demand for justice for George Floyd is accompanied by the demand for justice for Belly Mujinga, the railway ticket office worker who contracted Covid-19 and died after being spat at while on duty. The police decided not to prosecute her attacker.

As we see a violent response to the US protests from the Trump administration, the demand has now rightly been made of the British government to halt all sales of ‘riot control’ equipment to the US. There are grave concerns that it may be used by police to suppress protests over George Floyd’s death.

The BBC has reported that the Labour Party is urging ministers ‘to clarify whether any UK-made equipment is being used by US police in their operations and, if it is, for all future orders to be immediately suspended. They said the UK had licensed exports of tear gas and riot shields in the past year and any use for internal repression would contravene the law. The SNP has joined calls for existing and new orders to be suspended.’ Ending these sales is the very least that any government should do.

There is a huge international outcry about this shocking killing and the culture of police impunity and violence which goes along with it. It’s time for this culture to end. This is a moral issue and a human rights issue and our communities must stand together, work together to bring change: to end racism, oppression and discrimination and ensure that a better life for all is won, out of the suffering and tragedy of the times we are living through.