Liverpool's 'complete movement' stood with George Floyd

-Credit: (Image: Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo)
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo)

“I can’t breathe.”

These were the chilling final words of Minneapolis man George Floyd - but chances are you already knew that.

The 46-year-old uttered those words more than 20 times on May 25, 2020, as police officer Derek Michael Chauvin pinned him down to the ground with brutal force.

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Despite Mr Floyd shouting for help, Chauvin continued to place his knee over his neck for eight minutes before eventually killing the security guard outside a grocery shop - where he had been arrested for allegedly using a fake $20 note in Minnesota.

Mr Floyd’s last words sparked a global movement against police brutality as it became evident this murder was not an isolated incident - but rather another tragic example of systemic racism in society.

The video footage of his killing shocked the world and in doing so, ignited protests, marches and cries for desperately needed reform.

Remembrance murals of George Floyd appeared all over the world
Remembrance murals of George Floyd appeared all over the world -Credit:Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning

Anti-racism activist Chantelle Lunt was among many who protested throughout Liverpool. She, alongside, thousands across the world took to their knees to symbolise what Mr Floyd went through in the final minutes of his life.

Chantelle, councillor for St. Gabriel's Ward in Knowsley, told the ECHO: “It was a complete movement. The number of people who came together was affirming. George Floyd could have been any black person anywhere in the world because that oppression of black people exists almost everywhere we exist. It was the vicarious and collective trauma felt when we watched that video that tapped into us.

"It was us, as mums with sons, having brothers and dads, it was all of those things, that meant George Floyd could have been anyone for us. He felt part of our community and our family because of this.

“It was one of those defining moments where we all agreed we weren’t going to continue to put up with being marginalised, not being able to talk about our experiences and spaces. There is still a lot of hushing and silencing when you want to talk about these issues, racist issues.

Chantelle Lunt, 34, founder of Merseyside Black Lives Matter
Chantelle Lunt, 34, founder of Merseyside Black Lives Matter -Credit:Jessica Kleczka

“We decided we weren’t going to be moved until things changed and I think a lot of people are still resolute in that aim to this day."

Following the murder, The Black Lives (BLM) movement was thrust into the global spotlight. It initially started in July 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin.

The movement swept across the UK. Bristol protesters toppled a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into the harbour, Glaswegians targeted similar statues with graffiti denouncing police forces and Premier League footballers took the knee before matches.

Here in Liverpool, Wavertree’s Blue Coat School announced its removal of the name of Bryan Blundell, a former Mayor and founder of the school who was involved in the slave trade, from elements within the school community, iconic landmarks across the region lit up purple and the Liverpool Against Racism festival was born.

'Black Lives Matter' protest outside St George's Hall Plateau, June 2020
'Black Lives Matter' protest outside St George's Hall Plateau, June 2020 -Credit:Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo

Chantelle, a former Merseyside Police Officer, said: "There was a lot of campaigning before BLM but BLM seemed to give it the push it needed. There are still conversations that need to be had and there is lots still to go.

"You can still see various monuments and relics of the transatlantic slave trade around the city. We have the oldest black community here and diversity is nothing new in this region but we don't have representation in workplaces, teaching and social work - all very important places."

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