We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter

Posted by Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty on 11 Jun 2020

We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all those united in the struggle against racism and the fight for justice.

Liberty was founded in 1934 in reaction to the brutal policing of a protest. We champion anyone whose rights come under threat. We exist to stand up to power.

We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and all those united in the struggle against racism and the fight for justice.

George Floyd is the latest of countless Black people murdered by the state. It happened to take place in the US. It could have been the UK: in England and Wales alone, 183 people of colour have died at the hands of the police in the last thirty years.

Racism is a powerful force in the UK. Every institution is tainted by institutional racism. The architecture of the state – from surveillance to policing, immigration enforcement and mental health detention – is built on racism. It creates the conditions for state violence against Black people, insulates perpetrators from accountability and entrenches deep structural inequality.

Statements of solidarity are not enough

But statements of solidarity are not enough. If we can’t recognise the racism in our organisations and our sector, we are little better than the Government and the police who deny it in theirs. And if we don’t confront our part in perpetuating systems of inequality, we have no hope of dismantling them.

At a time of great oppression, widespread abuses of power and constant attacks on civil liberties, it’s more important than ever that Liberty confronts racism. This means continuing our anti-racist work against the hostile environment, immigration detention, racialised policing and discriminatory surveillance. It means continuing to use our power and privilege as a large and comparatively well-resourced NGO to work with and uplift the grassroots groups who are driving forward the fight for racial equality. It means empowering people and their communities to know and stand up for their rights. But it also means looking at ourselves.

For the past year Liberty has been doing a deep and critical analysis of its culture and ways of working. Liberty’s staff, and especially staff of colour, have shown courage and commitment in wholeheartedly participating in it. We have significant internal work to do on race equality; that work has been in train for some time, and remains so.

It’s a work in progress, but here are some of the ways we’re putting anti-racism at the heart of what we do:

  • We’re supporting people with advice and information about their protest rights and we stand ready to challenge the police and Government when they deploy unlawful tactics against protestors.
  • We will advance an anti-racist agenda across all our campaigning work and continue our work to dismantle the hostile environment, end immigration detention, challenge racist policing, stop discriminatory surveillance, fight racialised counter-terror measures and support victims of racism.
  • We will do race equality assessments at the outset of all our projects and test our strategic planning against measurements of equity and inclusion.
  • We’re proud that our Board is evenly split, with Black people and people of colour making up 50 per cent. People of colour make up 25 per cent of our staff team, but our Senior Management Team is white. We’re redesigning our recruitment process, reviewing our policies and working on processes and structures to include greater diversity of experience and expertise and to create a genuinely inclusive organisational culture.

This work will never be over. Our commitment is that we won’t stop challenging ourselves to be better.

Standing up to power is hard. Those who speak up, whether at a protest or in a meeting, deserve to be heard.

If you have ideas about how Liberty can be a better ally in the fight for race equality, please get in touch –

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