On Saturday (June 6) hundreds of protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement marched through Kingston like many thousands of others around the UK and the world demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality.

Kingston Race Equalities Council (KREC) have advocated for race justice in the borough for years, and won government funding last November to tackle National Race Hate Crime from the Home Office.

To mark the latest wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, KREC Chief Executive Officer John Azah published an open letter on the death George Floyd, the African American man who died in police custody in Minnesota, USA, sparking the latest wave of protests.

"History tells us that in some parts of the world Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) people suffer and experience disproportionate amounts of violence and injustice from Law Enforcement institutions.

"This is especially prevalent in the United States of America where over a number of years Black men in particular have died as a result of contact with the Police Forces," Azah wrote.

He described George Floyd's death at the hands of the police as "a gross act of inhumanity and barbarism".

"There can only be one explanation for this act. Racism and the dehumanisation of Black people is still prevalent in society and rampant in some institutions..." Azah added.

"Contrary to current thinking institutional racism remains active in most institutions but especially in Law Enforcement agencies such as the Police."

As the Black Lives Matter demonstration took place on Saturday afternoon, Azah joined an online memorial for Derick Mulondo, a black man who was stabbed to death in an assault on the Cambridge Road Estate by Shauna Doyle in 2017.

He was joined by Derick's family, Met Police officers and Kingston Council (RBK) representatives including Leader Caroline Kerr and Kingston and Surbiton MP Ed Davey.

Azah offered his analysis of the latest wave of Black Lives Matter protests, which first began in the US in 2014.

"Black people have had enough. BAME people are tired. We have heard the same old excuses over and over again everytime one of us is killed. And we are not prepared to take any more of the excuses," he wrote.

Surrey Comet: Protesters in support of Black Lives Matter rally for race equality in Kingston. Image: Oliver Monk / @olliegmonkProtesters in support of Black Lives Matter rally for race equality in Kingston. Image: Oliver Monk / @olliegmonk

While the structural violence black people are subjected to is often more extreme and frequent in the US, Azah pointed out, it's prevalent in the UK also.

"Even though these murders take place more frequently in America there are incidents which happen in the UK which are equally disturbing.

"There is a long history of Black people dying as a result of contact with Police. BAME people are more likely to be stopped and searched than their White counterparts.

"Black people are more likely to be fined under coronavirus laws than Whites in London and BAME people disproportionately die from COVID-19.

"Whether in America, the UK or some other distant country, racism, inequality and dis-equity has to stop," the KREC CEO said.

"In the Royal Borough of Kingston BAME communities want to identify with the suffering and grief of the family of George Floyd, show strong support for the campaign for justice for BAME people across America and the world and to urge that positive action is taken to stop such deaths and violence taking place.

"And if they do swift action should be taken to ensure that justice is seen to be done.

"KREC is working very positively with the Royal Borough of Kingston to promote equality, inclusion, understanding and cohesion which empowers and enables communities to work in Partnership and allows us to tackle these challenges jointly," he added.