George Floyd killing: ANC calls for calm, wants Ramaphosa to engage with US govt

Street art commemorating George Floyd in Berlin, Germany.
Street art commemorating George Floyd in Berlin, Germany.
Getty Images
  • The ANC calls for Americans to be calm after the killing of George Floyd
  • An autopsy revealed that Floyd died of "asphyxiation from sustained pressure"
  • The ANC condemned what it referred to as a racially-motivated killing

The ANC has called for calm in the US following mass protests after the death of George Floyd, allegedly at the hand of a police officer.

Floyd's death reignited the Black Lives Matter movement that was founded in 2013 to campaign against systemic racism and violence inflicted on black communities.

The ANC's statement comes as news broke of an independent autopsy finding that Floyd died of "asphyxiation from sustained pressure".

Floyd was killed in the US last Monday by police after being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit banknote. A video taken by a bystander shows an officer kneeling on his neck as he is pinned to the ground. At one point, Floyd is heard saying he cannot breathe.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe called on Americans and their government to "seek an amicable solution to the current racial impasse".

He urged the South African government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, to engage with the US via "established diplomatic channels to diffuse racial tensions and build social cohesion among different races".

Mabe's statement said: "It is deplorable that almost after 70 years of racial segregation was abolished in America, people of colour are still routinely slaughtered for the colour of their skin."

On Sunday, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation linked Floyd's death to that of Collins Khosa who was allegedly beaten to death by members of the South African National Defence Force in Alexandra in Johannesburg in March.

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor," archbishop Tutu said.

"Although both Khosa and Floyd technically enjoyed the same constitutional and human rights in their respective countries as their white, wealthy or otherwise-privileged compatriots, the actions of the soldiers and police who punished them reflected the painful truth of seemingly different values that societies and their personnel place on different lives," the foundation's CEO Piyushi Kotecha wrote in a statement.

Kotecha said the tens of thousands of black, white and Latino citizens demonstrating non-violently against racism and injustice on the streets of American cities deserve unequivocal applause.

"Conversely, opportunistic looting and destruction of property witnessed in the US in response to Floyd's death must be unequivocally condemned."

Kotecha quoted Martin Luther King who, in a sermon at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1956, said: "If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don't want peace. In a passive non-violent manner we must revolt against this peace. Jesus says in substance, I will not be content until justice, goodwill, brotherhood, love, yes, the kingdom of God are established upon the earth. This is real peace. Peace is the presence of positive good."

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