Lord Mayor calls for Leeds to unite in fight for Black Lives Matter equality

The Lord Mayor of Leeds said we must all “work together” to treat people equally in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
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Councillor Eileen Taylor told The Yorkshire Evening Post that it is vital everyone is treated the same and offered the same opportunities no matter what the colour of their skin.

Her comments follow the death of George Floyd in America after a white police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes.

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One police officer has been charged with second-degree murder and three other officers have now also been charged, with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Coun Eileen Taylor, with husband and consort Audley. Photo: Mark Bickerdike.Coun Eileen Taylor, with husband and consort Audley. Photo: Mark Bickerdike.
Coun Eileen Taylor, with husband and consort Audley. Photo: Mark Bickerdike.

His death has sparked mass protest in America and across the globe, calling for an end to violence and racism towards black people.

Coun Taylor, who became the city’s first black Lord Mayor in 2019, said: “I can’t even explain how the death of George Floyd has affected me as it is just unbelievable.

“I cannot believe it has happened in the 21st century.

“To watch a human life taken away in broad daylight I can not get my head around it.

Councillor Eileen Taylor, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, at the Leeds 10k 2019. Photo: Simon Dewhurst.Councillor Eileen Taylor, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, at the Leeds 10k 2019. Photo: Simon Dewhurst.
Councillor Eileen Taylor, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, at the Leeds 10k 2019. Photo: Simon Dewhurst.
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“It is unbearable for everyone, no matter what race they are, to see that happening."

She added: “The Black Lives Matter movement has been going on for many, many years - right back to Mandela and Martin Luther.

“The movement is nothing new to us but witnessing this death is telling us that enough is enough.

"Racism needs to stop, it is time for us to be looked at as human beings, not as a colour.

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“We may be people of colour but we didn’t choose to be born people of colour, it is just who we are and we should be accepted for who we are."

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Coun Taylor and Councillor Judith Blake, the Leader of Leeds City Council, also organised the 8for8 initiative on Monday, June 8, which encouraged people across the city to kneel in solidarity against racism and prejudice.

At 8pm, people were encouraged to either kneel outside their home, do a Namaste greeting and wear purple.

Coun Taylor, the Chapel Allerton Labour Councillor, said that as a multi-cultural city, it is important that people in Leeds stand together to fight racism.

She said: "Black people cannot fight racism on our own.

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"We need everyone to fight racism with us and we need all leaders around the world to accept that people of colour are human beings and should be treated equally.

“We have all these books about Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela in the library and children read them but racism is still there.

“Race can be taught in school but there is only so much that can be done.

“The change has to come from leaders, employers and the parents.

Coun Taylor added: “All babies are born innocent.

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“When we have children we should teach them that everyone is individual and that everyone is equal.

“It is down to the parents to say 'it doesn’t matter about colour, what matters is the relationship we have with the person'.

"We need to be equal so we can all stand together.

"We must work together, eat together and stay together and in this way, we can support each other. There are things that we can learn from each other."

"We shouldn’t even be talking about racism these days because we should be united.

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"Leeds is a multicultural and diverse city and I am proud of it.

"It is a city that welcomes all - it welcomed me.

"Maybe we should go to America and show the American president how Leeds works - maybe he’ll learn a thing or two."

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