.

Greater Manchester Leaders Look To Build ‘Stronger Dialogue’ With Black Communities

It follows protests after the death of George Floyd.

Greater Manchester leaders have pledged to build ‘stronger dialogue’ with local black communities in the wake of the ‘callous murder’ of George Floyd.

Town halls will light up in solidarity with Mr Floyd’s family and other cities in the United States where tens of thousands have protested over his death in police custody.

Mayor Andy Burnham and council leaders have also backed those who marched in Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Manchester over the weekend.

Politicians showing support was ‘nowhere near enough’ said Mr Burnham, who announced that a race quality panel aimed at addressing ‘structural and deep-seated’ inequalities would be established in the city-region next month. 

Police will also produce a quarterly report on the use of their powers across groups such as black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities with the aim of improving accountability and confidence in policing.

Speaking at a weekly press conference on Greater Manchester’s response to the virus, Mr Burnham said: “An issue I want to raise is not about Covid but a reflection on events in the United States and the callous murder of George Floyd.

“The shockwaves of what happened have been felt powerfully and painfully here in Greater Manchester over the last seven days.

“We wanted to send a message to our own black communities here that we understand their anger and the anguish that is being felt. 

“People are tired of discrimination and they want to see change as a result of this.”

A statement recognising the ‘underrepresentation of our black community in decision-making in Greater Manchester’ has been signed by the region’s leaders and will be sent to the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey.

The statement commits to working with the leadership programme offered by Operation Black Vote, a non-profit group focusing on increasing political participation and awareness in BAME communities.

The decision to create a race quality panel comes after a delayed Public Health England review found that Covid-19 death rates were higher amongst BAME groups.

“Inequalities faced by many communities are structural and deep-seated,” said Mr Burnham.

“There are communities that face much higher levels of health inequality because of circumstances regarding work, housing and representation.

“The panel will ensure that all of the work in Greater Manchester with regards to devolution has the consideration of race equality at its heart.”

Baroness Beverley Hughes, deputy mayor of Greater Manchester, said protests were understandable given Mr Floyd’s ‘absolutely shocking’ death.

But with another Black Lives Matter protest expected to take place in Manchester on Saturday June 6, she urged those taking part to do so with a mind to the current pandemic. 

“The right to peaceful protest is something we would always support,” said Ms Hughes.

“I understand people’s desire to make a statement about what’s happening in America and to show solidarity with those sections of our community here.

“I just say to people do that in a way that reflects the concerns about the health situation that we’re in at the moment.

“The protest walk by Black Lives Matter last weekend was conducted very peacefully and in a  very orderly way, and I have no doubt at all that if further events of that kind take place this weekend or beyond it will happen in the same way.”

Greater Manchester Police has a ‘well established’ way of approaching the discussions around protest walks with organisers, according to Ms Hughes, and will ‘will do the same as they always do’.

More from Local


Cover art for You're My Best Friend

On Air

Alex Lester playing Queen - You're My Best Friend