Timeline: one year since the death of George Floyd

Police killing of the unarmed African American prompted moment of reckoning for US race relations

Members of the clergy gather in front of a George Floyd mural in June, 2020
Members of the clergy gather in front of a George Floyd mural in June, 2020
(Image credit: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Environment Secretary George Eustice has sparked fresh debate about Black Lives Matters after refusing to condemn football fans who booed Millwall players for “taking the knee”.

Responding to questions about the incident at Saturday’s game between Millwall and Derby County, Eustice told Sky News that “the issue of race and racial discrimination is something that we all take very, very seriously”.

But he added: “Black Lives Matter, capital B, L and M, is actually a political movement that is different to what most of us believe in, which is standing up for racial equality.

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“Each individual can take their own choices about how they reflect this. I know a number of people feel quite strongly and have taken that approach.”

The Football Association has condemned Millwall fans for booing their own players for taking a knee, which “all elite teams have done since the police killing of George Floyd in the United States in May”, says The Times. And a man was later arrested over a series of “abusive” Facebook messages posted during the match, the BBC reports.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by Millwall FC - a team that has “historically been synonymous with racism”, according to Vice - said the club was “dismayed and saddened” by Saturday’s events.

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Eustane is not the first to criticise the BLM movement, however.

In an article in The Telegraph in June, ex-Brexit Party MEP Alexandra Phillips described the group as a “neo-Marxist movement with various far left objectives”.

These objections include “defunding the police… dismantling capitalism and the patriarchal system [and] disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure”, Phillips wrote.

The official BLM website describes the movement as a “black-centered political will and movement building project” with more than 40 chapters whose “members organise and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by the state and vigilantes”.

BLM UK, formed in 2016, did list “the dismantling of capitalism as a goal during recent fundraising on the Go Fund Me website”, The Times reports.

However, the US Office of Special Counsel has said that the movement is neither “partisan or political”, a ruling that has “cleared the way” for US federal employees to support the movement while on duty by wearing BLM insignia, says USA Today.

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