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Beyonce condemns police shootings and demands respect for black lives

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Beyonce reveals Formation

Beyonce has revealed and activist edge in her new music video Formation which tackles the black experience in America.



The latest round of police shootings of black men has seen Beyonce deliver her strongest words yet in her developing reputation as an activist and vocal presence on civil rights and the treatment of African-Americans.

After two black men were fatally shot by police in as many days – a period which some estimates have police involved in 18 shootings across the country – Beyonce posted a statement to her website demanding “respect for our lives”, declaring “we are sick and tired of the killings of young men and women in our communities” and calling for a community-wide plea “that they stop killing us”.

“We’re going to stand up as a community and fight against anyone who believes that murder or any violent action by those who are sworn to protect us should consistently go unpunished,” Beyonce says, adding that while these “robberies of lives” may make people feel “helpless and hopeless”, those people have to believe this is a fight for the next generation’s rights because “the fear is not an excuse. Hate will not win”.

“This is a human fight. No matter your race, gender or sexual orientation,” she goes on to say. “This is a fight for anyone for the who feels marginalised, who is struggling for freedom and human rights.”

Part of Beyonce's statement released on her website.

Part of Beyonce’s statement released on her website. Photo: Beyonce.com

At a show in Glasgow overnight, Beyonce held a moment of silence for the victims of police brutality, and also projected the names of the victims on the screen behind her. 

After almost two decades with relatively few public utterances on social issues, the Texas-raised, New York-based singer has become a prominent spokeswoman this year and her visual album, Lemonade, featured lyrics and images strongly commenting on the African-American experience in America, both historical and contemporary.

It began with the Superbowl performance of her song, Formation, which made explicit reference to black power activism and the Black Lives Matter movement, and then the release of the video for that song which included Beyonce sitting atop a New Orleans police car sinking in flood waters, directly referring to accusations of police brutality and mistreatment in Louisiana after hurricane Katrina.

While New Orleans police objected, and some commentators criticised Beyonce for “politicising” the half time entertainment at the football game, she also was praised by fans and activists for her stance.

It's time to take action on police shootings, Beyonce has told fans.

It’s time to take action on police shootings, Beyonce has told fans. Photo: Getty

In a bitter, though perhaps not surprising twist, one of the shootings this week, was in Louisiana, where a seemingly unarmed CD seller Alton Sterling died after being shot multiple times by Baton Rouge police.

“While we pray for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile,” Beyonce writes in her statement. “We will also pray for an end to this plague of injustice in our communities.”

However, it’s not just prayer the singer advocates, urging direct contact with “politicians and legislators” and offering links from the site to relevant figures, before concluding “your voice will be heard”.

Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z have long been advocates for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

The pair reportedly gave anonymous donations of tens of thousands of dollars to bail out jailed protesters following riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. Following an October 2015 Tidal charity concert, a $US1.5 million donation was made by the couple to the cause.

In 2013, the couple made an appearance at a ‘Justice for Trayvon Martin’ vigil and met with Martin’s mother.

with Mary Ward

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