To Mayor McKinley Price,
President, African American Mayors Association
The Core Cities is a network of the 11 biggest UK cities outside of London. Between us we deliver 26% of the UK’s combined economic output and across our greater urban areas are home to 30% of the UK population.
As city leaders, we are separated by an ocean but we share common interest with you. Families of all races and ethnicities in our diverse UK cities have loved ones living across the United States, from Minneapolis to Atlanta, New York, Washington, Dallas and Los Angeles. Our respective populations share heritages. We in the UK have faced our own racial inequalities from entrenched economic and political inequalities to the Windrush Scandal and deaths in custody. Racism scars our nation as well, we recognise your story which is why what happens in your country and cities matters to us here.
Our populations share your pain as they watch US cities erupt in open conflict. They feel the pain as they see African Americans such as George Floyd (Minnesota), Breonna Taylor (Kentucky), Tony McDade (Florida), and Ahmaud Arbery (Georgia) being killed by police officers, self-appointed vigilantes and the confirming insult when the criminal justice system appears unable to deliver what most would consider true or timely justice. We respect the fact that the pain is much more immediate to you but we share it. There have been a series of Black Lives Matter protests across the UK. It was Dr King who in 1963 wrote:
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
We suggest this “single garment” now extends around the world.
We also recognise these events are symptoms of what Dr King called “a far deeper malady within the American spirit”. There is profound concern about the growing prominence of racism, division and extremism in the United States. These are rooted in US history but they have remained alive and been given a new energy in the present. President Trump is key to this. We are profoundly concerned at the direction he is taking the country, the aggression he shows toward people who dare defy him, his detachment from any coherent moral code and the impact his apparent disinterest, ignorance and nationalistic bombast is having on the wider world.
One of the gravest dangers we face at this time is this: that as responsible politics leaders endeavouring to counter the agitation coming from the President, we bring a message of reason and calm that inadvertently understates the significance of the political moment we are in. So it is important we are clear that very many black, brown and white American lives are at stake; America’s peace and hope for peace is at stake; America’s democracy is at stake; America’s political repositioning means issues ranging from climate change, to migration, to peace efforts in the Middle East, to world trade and the fight against global poverty are at stake; and America's moral and political leadership role is at stake. This is a huge moment and we cannot stand on the side lines. To do so would be to appease a man and a politics that is morally, competently and spiritually unfit for national or international leadership.
And so we write to you to express our support for you as fellow city leaders who are being underserved by your national government. We recognise the pain you will be feeling, both personally and politically as leaders and community members who are African American. We recognise the unique position you hold, sharing and giving a platform to the collective grief finding expression in the street protests and rebellions whilst trying to keep everyone safe from those who are not out there protesting injustice but using it as an excuse to loot, the police and the President’s desire to militarise law and order. We want to thank you for the stand you have taken in the face of the President, and for being a source of political hope in a country that to the outside world appears to be losing its way and losing its hope. Your leadership today holds a new level of global significance, and we want you to know that we want to stand by you, however we can.
UK Core Cities