Lyla Smith-Abass is an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor at SurvivorsUK. She wrote this moving poem about George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minnesota last week.

There was a lynching in Minneapolis

A lynching? That’s just history, news past, news old
No, there was a lynching in Minneapolis, truth be told
Who would believe that in this day and age
A busy road would be the stage, of a black man’s lynching.

Back in the day they’d chase and beat, sweating from heat
Hang him from the tree, to the delight and glee of the bystanders
While a child grins, the body swings to the rhythm of a creaking branch
“Fun’s over” they cheer, pat each other on the back, then walk away, disappear

It’s history right, lynching, that’s what I’ve been told
So, how cold, how bold, to parade in view
With carefree banter, the hate of someone darker than you
His colour was his crime. The rhythm and rhyme of his lynching

It’s history, lynching, isn’t it? That’s what you said
But, if it’s history, how comes the Black man is dead, while the White man
Claims he had to be subdued “feared for my life”. The excuse they often use
About these men they emasculate. A dying Black Goliath crying for his Mamma

It was a 20th century lynching, they’ve brought it right up to date,
An action from the past, today still steeped in hate for the other, for difference
Billy Holiday sang about strange fruit, when they hung them from trees
Now, with emotionless mirth, today’s fruit is crushed under their knees
They took his life in a public lynching. WWW dot
World wide view, life slipping away, at the hands of society’s protectors, nothing new
Black men across the world are not allowed to breathe, to be free
They don’t have the same liberty, the same privilege as White society

There was a lynching in Minneapolis.

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