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Belonging
Identity, Society, Beliefs, Countries

16 April 2021

Unhealed
The newly-disclosed footage of 13-year-old Adam Toledo being shot dead by Chicago police, even though his hands were clearly in the air, is already prompting protests and forced the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, to call for calm. Lightfoot rather desperately described the shooting as “a complicated and nuanced story”, but the truth appears to be quite otherwise. Yet again, a young Black man has been killed by police officers, just as 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot dead on Sunday in Brooklyn Center in Minnesota by former officer Kim Potter, who claims that she thought she was handling a Taser rather than a handgun. Simon & Schuster announced yesterday that it had ditched plans to distribute a book by Jonathan Mattingly, one of the Louisville police officers involved in the raid in which Breonna Taylor was killed in March 2020 – posing the question: why was it proposing to distribute the book in the first place? All this has taken place against the grim backdrop of the trial of Derek Chauvin, charged with second- and third-degree murder, who yesterday waived his right to take the stand. 

15 April 2021

Human wrongs
Priti Patel, Britain’s home secretary, breached human rights rules when she failed to properly investigate deaths in immigration detention centres. The immigration court ruling relates to two Nigerian friends, Ahmed Lawal and Oscar Lucky Okwurime, who were in an immigration removal centre when Okwurime was found dead in his cell in 2019. Lawal had come forward as a witness, but the Home Office tried to deport him before he could provide evidence. The immigration court ruled that the attempt to deport Lawal was a failure to secure evidence for an inquest into Okwurime’s death. The inquest jury found Okwurime had died as a result of poor medical care. 

14 april 2021

Afghan exit
The United States will pull the last of its troops out of Afghanistan by 11 September. The date marks the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which triggered the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. “We need to close the book on a 20-year war,” a US official said. Some Afghans hope the US withdrawal will push conflicting Afghan parties to reach a peaceful settlement. Others fear a civil war. “I wish President Biden had conditioned the troop withdrawal timeline with zero killings on the ground by all parties between May and September,” said the Afghan scholar and activist Orzala Nemat.

13 April 2021

Shirley Williams
Shirley Williams, one of the four founders of the UK’s breakaway Social Democratic Party, has died at 90. She set up that party, splitting from Labour, in 1981, causing an earthquake. A stalwart of the Lib Dems, the party that eventually emerged from her political entrepreneurship, she was a cheery, popular politician. But she also deserves to be remembered as the first modern education secretary. The round of reforms which are still continuing started under her. The introduction of the GCSE – the most successful of all recent English school reforms – happened a decade after she left office, but on foundations she laid. 

12 APRIL 2021

Operation Forth Bridge
Following the death of Prince Philip on Friday aged 99, the UK has entered an eight-day period of mourning. There will be a small, Covid-compliant funeral of 30 guests on Saturday that will be televised, with speculation that this could be a moment of reconciliation for warring princes William and Harry. Parliament has been recalled a day early from the Easter recess to allow MPs to pay their respects and campaigning for local elections has been suspended, but will resume this week. Elsewhere the conversation has already turned to memorials, with the Sunday Telegraph reporting that the PM is under pressure to commemorate the Duke of Edinburgh with a £190 million royal yacht. Though the Telegraph, to be fair, has yet to find an event that it does not think is grounds for buying a new royal yacht.