The case of George Floyd: an expression of structural racism

The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race & Equality) expresses our outrage at the killing of George Floyd, recognizing that he was killed by racism and police violence. His death, which thousands of people in the United States and across the world are protesting, is the consequence of structural and institutionalized racism. This racism perpetuates poverty, violence, discrimination and other systematic violations of African Americans’ fundamental rights.

Despite efforts to deny the extent of racism in the US, George Floyd’s death cannot be understood without reference to these patterns of discrimination and violence, particularly the persistence of police violence against African Americans. Race & Equality is united with the individuals and organizations who are responding to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others by proclaiming that Black Lives Matter and exercising their right to protest and freedom of expression to demand change.

We are concerned by the response of the US government to protests across the country, with thousands of protestors being repressed by police forces and the National Guard. The use of military vehicles and weapons to intimidate the population and impede the exercise of their rights in unacceptable. As a result of these tactics, which are encouraged by national leaders including President Donald Trump, people have suffered injuries, permanent harms such as the loss of eyes and even death during the last week of protests.

The case of George Floyd makes clear that the scourges of discrimination and racism, if left unaddressed, will lead to violent ruptures in our social, political, economic and cultural lives, making it impossible for us to build just, equitable and peaceful societies.

Today, we commit to speaking out so that Black Lives can be acknowledged, valued and respected. We demand that states change their policing practices, eliminate racial profiling and dialogue with Black organizations and communities to find solutions to this crisis.

The mistreatment and killings of Black people in the US has been facilitated by onlookers’ silence in the face of injustice and violence. This silence also extends to the institutions of justice, which have consistently failed to try, condemn and sanction those who take and threaten Black lives. We demand that those responsible for the killing of George Floyd be brought to justice and that the cycle of impunity in crimes against African Americans be broken.

Finally, we urge States and international organizations to redouble their efforts in the fight against racism, adopting all necessary measures to eradicate discrimination in all its forms. Only by eliminating racist doctrines and practices can the ideals of peace and justice flourish.

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