Justice Minister Naomi Long silent over Black Lives Matter call to defund police and founders’ praise for wanted terror figure

The Northern Ireland justice minister has refused to be drawn on a number of key issues at the heart of the Black Lives Matter campaign – particularly its call to starve police forces of public funds.
Naomi Long’s Twitter profile as she changed her picture to an image supporting Black Lives Matter (BLM)Naomi Long’s Twitter profile as she changed her picture to an image supporting Black Lives Matter (BLM)
Naomi Long’s Twitter profile as she changed her picture to an image supporting Black Lives Matter (BLM)

Naomi Long said she opposes racism and wants to see “human rights compliant” policing, but did not address the substance of questions which the News Letter posed to her.

Mrs Long has come out vocally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and last week changed her Twitter image to simply display the words ‘Black Lives Matter’.

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The News Letter has reported concerns from DUP MP Sammy Wilson that many of the people who are sympathetic to the calls for greater racial equality in America are not aware of the actual details of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

BLM began in 2013 in response to the fatal shooting by a Hispanic-German man of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

The official BLM website refers to peopleas “murderers” regardless what the legal outcomes were in their cases.

For example it calls a policeman who fatally shot Mike Brown in Ferguson in 2014 a murderer although he was never charged with a crime (plus a US Justice Department investigation found that the evidence in the case supported the policeman’s account – namely that Brown, who had just robbed a shop, tried to wrestle his gun off him and then charged towards him before being shot).

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Both Patrice Cullors and Alicia Garza, co-founders of the BLM movement, cite Assata Shakur – a convicted police killer and the first woman ever on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list – as being an inspiration to them.

The official BLM website also says: “George Floyd’s violent death was a breaking point – an all too familiar reminder that, for Black people, law enforcement doesn’t protect or save our lives. They often threaten and take them ... We call for a national defunding of police”.

The News Letter first asked the Department of Justice (DoJ) last Thursday whether Mrs Long had any qualms about supporting the BLM movement given its calls to defund police and the praise given to Assata Shakur, as well as posing questions about the local protests.

At that time the minister responded by saying she is “committed to opposing racism at every opportunity” and that she could “empathise” with the protestors – but stressed that the Covid-19 lockdown was no time to engage in rallies.

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She did not address the questions of defunding police or the praise for Shakur.

The department was asked again this week about whether the minister supported the call to defund police.

It responded by restating Mrs Long’s opposition to the protests, but did not address the question head on.

Instead its statement said: “It will come as no surprise that the justice minister is opposed to bigotry and injustice of any kind. That includes systemic racism.

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“Nor will it come as any surprise that she supports a transparent and accountable police service, which is human rights compliant. That includes the PSNI which has oversight through the Police Ombudsman and the NI Policing Board.”


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