George Floyd murder: Northamptonshire social justice campaign group boss insists more is needed to tackle police brutality and racism

'Of course I welcome the guilty verdicts but this is one conviction about the actions of one officer'

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 12:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 12:50 pm

The conviction of George Floyd's murderer is momentous but more work is needed to tackle police brutality and racism, says a Northamptonshire social justice campaign group boss.

Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council chief executive Anjona Roy welcomed Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict in the United States yesterday (Tuesday, April 20).

But the former Labour and Co-operative county councillor believes the Black Lives Matter fight for equality is far from over with institutional prejudice and custody deaths still a problem in the US and in Britain.

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Protesters at the Black Lives Matter march in Northampton in May last year. 'I Can't Breathe' comes from the footage of George Floyd's murder as white police officer knelt on his neck for over nine minutes. Photo: Leila Coker

"It is and it isn't a big moment, of course I welcome the guilty verdicts but this is one conviction about the actions of one officer," she told the Chronicle & Echo.

"There are still all the issues around police brutality, particularly in the US but it happens here as well, we still have deaths in custody.

"We still have deaths with people who are detained by police or when stopped and searched by the police, that still happens here even now.

"Here we're still yet to get a single conviction for anybody over some of these deaths, even some whose campaigns from family members have been going on for decades."

Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council chief executive Anjona Roy

Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree and third-degree murder and manslaughter by a jury after a trial in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Footage of the white police officer killing Mr Floyd, who was black, by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes last year sparked worldwide protests against racism, including in Northampton.

Ms Roy, who helped to organise the marches, said: "I think it made a difference, we can't say the jurors were influenced but it made a difference.

"Last summer people were saying George Floyd is this or that but you either have a judicial system that holds people to account or you don't."

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council drew up a nine-point plan to address racial inequality.

She also pointed to the victim-blaming seen during Chauvin's trial and further recent deaths of black men by police in the US as signs that reform is still required.

Ms Roy thinks these and other examples of a lack of action following Mr Floyd's death show how much further society has to go before progress has been made.

"These issues around racism internationally, nationally and locally need to have a higher priority but also people need to take genuine action on this as something needs to happen," she said.

"Locally the police are quick to point out when people draw comparisons to the US that we're not the US or to the Met, or West Midlands Police or Thames Valley Police.

"But actually that's not people's experience of policing, they don't stay in Northamptonshire all of the time so there is room for improvement."