Wales’s health minister has defended people protesting against the death of George Floyd in the United States, saying the loss of black lives was the “biggest harm” to the country.
Vaughan Gething said that the US was not alone in appearing to be “going backwards” on race relations, and that though all lives should matter “in some countries they don’t”.
African American Floyd died in police custody last week after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
Gething, who became the first black minister of any of the UK’s devolved governments in 2013, was speaking after posting a video online calling on would-be Welsh protesters to abide by a ban on mass gatherings.
Responding to questions about the protests, he told the Welsh government’s daily press briefing on Tuesday: “This is quite personal, because I am in a position where I see what’s happening.
“And despite the fact that I have a pretty all-consuming job to do in this once in a century pandemic, you can’t avoid or ignore the images that we’ve seen.
“And it isn’t just the images we’ve seen now, it’s the fact that in the recent weeks there have been other killings of black people in the United States.”
Gething said that the US was not alone in seeing a rise in discrimination against ethnic minorities, saying the same could also be said for the UK.
“I remember growing up and seeing Rodney King, and the way that that drew in riots that took place as well. And it isn’t just America that appears to be going backwards to its difficult and shameful past on race relations,” he said.
“It has an impact on all of us, and it matters here too. We have disparities and inequalities within the United Kingdom too. They may not be as stark as in the USA, but this matters not just because of where I stand in politics, it matters to me because of who I am.
“That’s why I sent out the message that I did, and I look forward to progress being made here within this country, not just for our people but in terms of an example for other countries too.
“And I certainly hope that all those good decent people in the United States of America recognise the biggest harm being done isn’t the loss of property, it’s the loss of lives.
“All our lives should matter the same. But unfortunately, in some countries they don’t.”
On Sunday hundreds of people protested outside Cardiff Castle in the Welsh capital in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of Floyd.
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