Leeds War Memorial was erected outside the art gallery
Leeds War Memorial was erected outside the art gallery

Statement on behalf of Leeds Labour Group:

Like many people across the world, the Labour Group has been horrified at the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. We have seen and heard the outrage and pain felt by many people over the past week.

Racism is not just an American problem and in Leeds, we believe that racism and prejudice has no place in our society. We all have a part to play to challenge racism and prejudice wherever we find it and to support those who have experienced discrimination.

We are very proud of our diverse multicultural city and strongly feel that the diversity of Leeds is one of our key assets. We are committed to creating a compassionate city that welcomes people from all over the world. However, we know that, unfortunately, this isn’t the experience of everybody and there is always more that can be done to challenge racism and to support those who have experienced it.

The tragic and appalling death of George Floyd has been a catalyst moment that has opened a global conversation about racism in our societies. It is hugely important to have these discussions and particularly to listen to those with lived experience of racism and discrimination and we welcome discussions about how as a city we can take action and show solidarity in ways that are peaceful.

We also understand the anguish caused by statues of some historical figures. There will, therefore, be a city-wide review of statues in Leeds to understand their history and context, as well as to ensure our city’s rich multi-cultural history is appropriately celebrated and represented and also to identify any gaps that exist.  It is important the review works closely with communities and cultural partners from across the city.  We are delighted to announce that Alderwoman Alison Lowe has agreed to lead the review and her vast experience in this area is very much welcome.

Labour principles are founded on defeating inequalities and under normal circumstances councillors in the Leeds Labour Group would be at the forefront of marches and demonstrations against racism. However, the COVID-19 virus means we have no option but to follow national guidance around maintaining social distancing. We have all witnessed the deadly impact of the virus, especially in BAME communities that have been hit particularly hard, so safety must remain a priority. We pay tribute to the work of Labour Group members and our Lord Mayor in working to organise alternatives to physical demonstrations to express our solidarity and pain.

We understand how difficult this is for all who want to join a demonstration, but we urge everyone to continue to follow the guidance to fight the virus and help save lives.

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