Friday, 12 June 2020

Cllr Butt: 'We need to feel uncomfortable' to bring about the necessary change in Black lives

Stonebridge Adventure Playground users protest against closure
Youth Centre users protest against closures

1,000 strong protest against Bridge Park sell-off

In a message to residents Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said that in considering positive changes to Black lives 'we will need to feel uncomfortable.'  

The decision to close Stonebridge Adventure Playground, so important in the lives of many BAME young people over the last 40 years; a review of the cuts the Council has made in youth provision; and very much of the moment, the Council's ongoing high court fight with Black residents over the Bridge Park Complex are all Brent policy issues that in my opinion might make the Council 'uncomfortable' but need an honest review.

This is the relevant section of Cllr Butt's Newsletter:
Last week I told you that Brent Council stands with our Black residents, and the Black Lives Matter campaign, against all forms of prejudice and injustice. I now want to promise you that these were not empty words. We are fully committed to positive action to improve life for all our Black residents.

Yesterday (June 11) the Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Margaret McLennan, and I met with leaders and young people from Black communities across the borough. The council’s Chief Executive, senior council officers and the Police Borough Commander were also present. Despite the deep pain we all feel at the current situation, the talks were both constructive and productive and there was a willingness to turn our pain into positive action. It was clear that to bring the changes that are so vital and necessary, we will need to feel uncomfortable. Neither community leaders, role models nor the council can make the changes that are needed alone. We must all work together, and we will. Whatever happens internationally, nationally and at a London-wide level, discussions and action will continue in Brent, as we work in partnership to create an action plan to stamp out inequality in our borough in the short, medium and long term.
In his current Kilburn Times column Cllr Butt calls the community action in removing the  slave trader Colston's  statue 'Vigilantism':

Butt is following Keir Starmer's line in condemning the action but Brent Central MP Dawn Butler disagreed with Starmer's approach. She told ITV's Peston:
He did say that the activists were completely wrong, and I disagree, I don't think the activists were completely wrong. I think the activists in Bristol have been fighting for many years, probably over a decade to get the statue removed, and to get the statue put into a museum, and that didn't happen.And essentially they made it happen, and so I don't think that they were completely wrong.

1 comment:

Pete Firmin said...

Its almost as if the twp statements by Mo Butt were written by different people.On the one hand "we are listening", and change will come, but then the other Mo Butt writes of the "vigilantism" of those who toppled a statue. Even stronger than the language used by Johnson and Priti Patel, who merely talk of vandalism.Vigilantism id usually used for describing revenge attacks on people, not statues. Emotive language indeed. But I wonder if Councillor Butt knows that people in Bristol had been calling for years for the statue to Colston to go. How many more years should they have waited. Perhaps Councillor Butt would like to extend his condemnation to Rosa Parks, who clearly should have waited until the law on segregation of buses was changed through the "correct channels". Or the suffragettes waited until they were graciously given the vote. Tolpuddle Martyrs and trade union rights? Councillor Butt and those who think like him should surely realise that change that is needed is sometimes brought about without waiting for it to be handed down from above. The Bristol "statue topplers" should be congratulated not only for taking down a memorial to a slave trader, but more importantly for opening up a whole discussion about this country's dark history.