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Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP
Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP
Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP
Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP
UK News

'Racism is a disease that needs to be confronted': UK pastor backs protests after black man dies in police custody

by Tola Mbakwe

A UK pastor has said the anger displayed in protests about a black man dying in police custody is justified. 

On Wednesday, people looted a department store and had violent clashes with police during a second day of protests about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Floyd died shortly after his arrest on Monday, during which an officer was filmed kneeling on his neck.

Darnella Frazier via AP

A video shows the white police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest for several minutes, even though he was handcuffed, lying on the ground and had said he could not breathe. He soon died. 

Many protesters marched more than two miles to the police station, with some damaging the building's windows and cars and spraying graffiti. Police in riot gear eventually confronted them with tear gas and objects. Tense clashes went on late into the evening.

The FBI and state law enforcement are investigating Mr Floyd's death, which immediately drew comparisons to the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in 2014 in New York after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.

In the Garner case, local prosecutors, the NYPD's internal affairs unit and the Justice Department all finished investigations into the case before the officer was ultimately fired. Mr Garner's family and activists spent years begging for the officer to be removed.

Clement Okusi, pastor of Eternity Church London in Croydon, told Premier although he doesn't condone violence, sometimes anger is part of the process in addressing such injustices.

"Anger is a natural God-given response to evil. In fact what I would say the problem is the reason why these injustices carry on is because people don't get angry enough," he said.
 
"People are not moved deep down inside of them. 

"I read the Bible, God gets angry. Jesus gets angry. And so this idea that we should be different in our response when you're the victim…I don't think you should be telling victims how they should respond to the violations that they've suffered. 

"Sitting in an office on the other side of the world, watching [the video of Floyd's death] on screen, you can make those sort of disconnected views about people's response. But when you're in it, when you're close to it, and you walk alongside people who suffer that evil and that injustice, you begin to feel their pain."

Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP

Based on the video, mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey said he believes officer Derek Chauvin should be charged over Floyd's death.

Chauvin and three other officers were fired on Tuesday. 

Pastor Okusi said as well as protesting about what happened, Christian leaders also need to be vocal about racial injustice. 

"I think racism is a disease that needs to be confronted," he said. "The Church can preach about it. If you're going to address this, you've got to hear it from the right voice. It's a sin. 

"There was racism in the Bible. Much of the Apostle Paul's harshest language was reserved for racism, Jewish racism against Gentile racism.

"It's a sin and we've got to call it out as a sin. We've got to preach about it, we've got to take stands against it. We've got to examine our own hearts thing, to see whether it's the need for repentance and forgiveness."

Listen to Premier's interview with Pastor Clement Okusi here:

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