ANZASW Statement: George Floyd and a call for change
ANZASW is appalled and deeply saddened to see the extreme display of violence and police brutality that lead to the tragic death of George Floyd on 25th May 2020. We would like to offer our support and solidarity to the Black Lives Matter protests happening in the USA and around the world.
We would also like to acknowledge the work of social workers in continuing to be on the front-lines in fighting for and advancing human and social rights. Social workers act as critical contributors to upholding and advocating for social justice, equality and inclusion. Social work as a profession critically engages with and challenges issues of racism and the institutional systems that foster such beliefs.
The recent events in the USA have highlighted the need for collective action and voice in advocating for change to be made to the systems, institutions and laws that lead to and allow for the mistreatment and violation of human rights such as those seen over the past week.
Anger and upset is spreading around the globe surrounding the role that armed police play in the lives of people of colour. In Aotearoa, discussions around the Armed Response Teams’ trials have been brought to light through the #ArmsDownNZ movement in part as a response to the death of George Floyd. Figures released by Newshub last week show the trial had disproportionally impacted on Māori with nearly half of those apprehended being Māori and another eleven percent being Pasifika.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated that she is “totally opposed” to the arming of police. ANZASW strongly supports this statement and calls for the discontinuation of armed police in Aotearoa.
Yesterday on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report Justice advocate Julia Whaipooti explained that the death of George Floyd “resonated with many New Zealanders”.
She furthered that “[w]hen we look to the United States, they are 400 years deep into a history of colonisation and slavery. In New Zealand, we are 200 years deep into our colonial history.”
“Colonial structures, by design, take powers away from indigenous people and people of colour, and that power is often used disproportionally on people of colour and indigenous people”.
“Policing in New Zealand, though not on the same scale as we see in the United States, the underlying issues remain the same and present in the way that we police in this country.”
ANZASW encourages reflection by all New Zealanders on what we can do as individuals and wider community groups to foster and grow an inclusive, just and safe society for all people. We further call on policing decisions to be made with consideration of the wider effects that such decisions will have on Aotearoa’s vulnerable communities.