This week our Social Impact Briefing highlights widespread protests in the US after the murder of George Floyd, the absence of justice for Belly Mujinga, and the proposed new law that could curtail freedoms in Hong Kong.
| Rest In Power George Floyd
Over 30 cities in the United States (US) joined together to protest police brutality and demand justice after the murder of George Floyd (46) in downtown Minneapolis. Of the four police officers involved, only Derek Chauvin has so far been charged after pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes (two of which while Floyd was unresponsive).
The protests reflect collective anger at the continual racialised violence the black community faces at the hands of the police and the absence of subsequent legal consequences. A recent analysis by advocacy group Mapping Police Violence found 99% of police killings from 2014 to 2019 did not result in officers being charged with a crime. Another study concluded that black men have a 1 in 1000 chance of being killed by police in their lifetime — double that of any other ethnic group.
Minnesota Attorney General, Keith Ellison, will now lead the investigation after the local District Attorney brought about charges of third-degree murder which in local state laws signifies that no intent to kill was present. Activist Shaun King tweeted: “Local leaders lost all confidence in the local DA, Mike Freeman. We expect Keith to increase the charges and charge all 4 men.”
The federal response has been less conciliatory, with President Trump announcing his intention to designate ANTIFA as a terrorist organisation. ANTIFA is a collection of autonomous activist groups, rather than a unified organisation. Their designation as a terrorist group is particularly concerning as it could lead to heavy crackdowns on any protest that could be arbitrarily classified as part of ANTIFA.
If you would like to help but are unsure of what tangible actions you can take, the following link is a resource collating the various ways that you can show your support: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#
| Say her name: Belly Mujinga
Whilst anger flared across the United States at the injustice surrounding George Floyd’s murder, a similar sentiment was ignited across the UK following the British Transport Police’s decision to take no further action after Belly Mujinga’s death. Belly passed away on April 6 after being spat on by a man who claimed to have contracted Covid-19. Despite the police ruling that the incident was not linked to her death, Belly was still forced to work in a public-facing position even though her employer, Govia Thameslink, knew that she had an existing respiratory condition that would put her in the high-risk category for Covid-19.
The lack of investigation from the British Transport Police has, for many, echoed the injustices seen across the United States. Thousands have already started protesting across London and Manchester against the murder of George Floyd, but many more protests are planned throughout the week as the fight for justice for Belly Mujinga continues.
Belly leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter. You can donate to a crowdfunder to support her family here.
| One nation, one system?
Protests in Hong Kong continue to intensify over a new controversial national security law, raising concerns over the sustainability of a number of freedoms in the Special Administrative Region. While the specific details of the proposed law are not yet clear, the law would seek to criminalise:
- secession – breaking away from the country
- subversion – undermining the power or authority of the central government
- terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people
- activities by foreign forces that interfere in Hong Kong
Many protesters are concerned the Chinese government would set-up its own security institutions within Hong Kong to enforce this law.
Under the Basic Law agreement between China and the UK in 1997, Hong Kong is supposed to operate under a “one country, two systems” principle. As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal system and borders, and rights including freedom of assembly, free speech and freedom of the press are protected. Many fear the new law will undermine these freedoms and result in the slow process of Hong Kong losing its semi-autonomous status.
Today, China announced that the vigil marking 1989’s violent crackdown in Tiananmen Square, was banned due to “health concerns” around Covid-19. This will be the first time in 30 years that Hong Kong has not held the commemoration, concerningly bringing the region in line with mainland China where even oblique references are banned.
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