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Fight back against racism in US has to come from change in government - activist

Anti-racism activist April Reign says nothing will change when it come to racism against black Americans until there is a systemic change within government.

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April Reign believes there will be no change in violence against black Americans until there is a systemic change within government. Source: Breakfast

Last week, George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, died after a police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him to the ground by his neck as he gasped for air and pleaded for his life.

A video shows him face down in the street for over eight minutes before he passes out and is taken away on a stretcher by paramedics.

He later died in police custody.

His alleged crime was forgery of $20, but it is not clear whether any forgery actually took place and George Floyd will never be able to tell his side of the story because he is dead.

Since then, there have been violent protests throughout the US, and protests in other countries, including in New Zealand yesterday.

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The protests took place in more than 75 cities with protestors largely ignoring curfews in 40 cities. Source: Breakfast

April Reign, the woman behind #Oscarssowhite - a movement that shamed the Academy Awards into acknowledging, then addressing it's striking lack of diversity, said George Floyd's death was one of many killings being protested.

"There will be more black people killed, there will be more violence until government officials make it a priority to make structural change to the laws from within, that are then enforced by the force," she told TVNZ1's Breakfast today.

"Change from within, it has to be structural change, you know, this is not the first time, this is not the last time. We can go back five years ago to Trayvon Martin and there was a lot of protesting there but no real change, the laws did not change.

"We are not going to see change in this country, or in fact around the world, we concentrate on the United States but we know that racism and bigotry exists all around the world, but we will not see change until systemic change from within government."

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Terrence Floyd made a powerful speech at the Minnesota protest. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Reign, who has a background as a lawyer, said around the US and the world at the moment, demonstrators are protesting about the killings of both George Floyd and Breonna Taylor - a black woman shot dead by police while sleeping in her bed after officers went to the wrong home.

"There are people around this country that are protesting the deaths at the hands of law enforcement of both George Floyd and Breonna Taylor."

But they aren't the only two.

"We can go all the way back to 30 years ago, with Rodney King when we saw him beaten by a dozen police officers in Los Angeles and the fact that those police officers, when they were tried, were acquitted despite video evidence.

"Now we fast forward to 30 years later and thank goodness we have video evidence and social media and the ability to amplify these stories, but the results have not changed."

Ms Reign said there were "so many road blocks put in place for victims of state sanctioned violence", adding that even when there is an arrest or charge, the offenders are very often acquitted.

"There's never going to be any justice for any of these black and brown victims because justice would mean that they'd still be alive, but many times we also see that there is no accountability.

"Too many of us see ourselves as expendable."

Ms Reign said the police's motto was protect and serve, but that was not what they were doing.

"Even today, yesterday, the last several days, when we see people out on the street protesting police violence, and then those same police officers are turning mace and pepper spraying and rubber bullets against these peaceful protestors.

"So who in fact are you protecting and serving if you are fighting against the same people who look to you or should be able to look to you for help?"

Amidst the protests, US President Donald Trump has tweeted calling demonstrators "thugs" and that "when the looting starts the shooting starts". 

But Ms Reign said today, "I don't think it should be for the oppressor to tell the oppressed how they can protest."

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Thousands took to the streets on our major cities this afternoon, protesting against police brutality and racism. Source: 1 NEWS