Racism not welcome in American military ranks, says US Forces Korea commander

WION Web Team
New York, New York, United States of America Updated: Jun 07, 2020, 02:43 PM(IST)

Protests swell in US Photograph:( AFP )

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These comments have come amid the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man whose death on May 25 -- at the hands of a white police officer who knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes -- has become the latest flashpoint for rage over police brutality against African Americans.

Racism and bigotry are not welcome in the United States and the US military, according to US Forces Korea commander Army Gen Robert Abrams.

These comments have come amid the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man whose death on May 25 -- at the hands of a white police officer who knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes -- has become the latest flashpoint for rage over police brutality against African Americans, propelling the issue of race to the top of the political agenda ahead of the US presidential election on November 3.

“We should all be outraged and ashamed at the killing of George Floyd & others by police. I know I am,” Abrams tweeted Friday. 

“We should be equally outraged against racism and bigotry that continues. To be clear—there is NO place for it in our country and NO place for it in our military. ZERO.”

Abrams added he has spent the past week speaking privately with black service members so they could share their concerns with him.

“The pain is deep and real. These are not isolated cases of discrimination and bigotry... it is in many places,” Abrams said. “...and what I heard is heartbreaking...we can and must do better. We cannot sit by and hope that ‘they’ fix it. Things will not improve by themselves. It takes action...by ‘us’. We need to start right here where we are.”

Also read | Uniformed military personnel deployed at WH grounds as anti-racism protests in US enter Day 12

For service members, that means taking action within one’s squad or platoon — all the way up to USFK headquarters. Additionally, he said to examine the composition of one’s formation and note if there is a lack of diversity. Not only will increased diversity help wipe out bigotry, but it will increase formation effectiveness, he said.

“If you don’t think there is a problem, you might be part of the problem,” Abrams said. 

“Have the courage to start the conversation.”

“Last and most importantly, we need to do less talking the talk, and start walking the walk in our daily actions that demonstrates our commitment to our values and dignity and respect for everyone,” Abrams said. “Together we’re stronger. You can make a difference. Let’s commit to it.”

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Reports say 36 per cent of all active-duty service members have personally seen examples of white supremacy and racism within the military.

This is the first time any US military personnel has mentioned about racism on a public platform.

Talking of racism, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington and other cities in the United States on Saturday to demand an end to the issue of race and brutality by US law enforcement as protests over the killing of a black man by Minneapolis police entered a 12th day.

In addition, thousands of people took to the streets in European and Asian cities on Saturday, demonstrating in support of US protests against police brutality.

Also read | Thousands across the world join 'Black Lives Matter' movement

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