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Tory MP tells constituent ‘all lives matter’ in response to death of Black rail worker who died after coronavirus spit attack

Emma Powys Maurice June 4, 2020
Belly Mujinga

Police have dropped the investigation into the death of Belly Mujnga, who died of coronavirus after being spat in the face by a man who was infected with the virus. (Facebook/Meeting of Minds UK)

A Conservative MP has responded to a constituent’s concerns about the death of Black rail worker Belly Mujinga with an email telling her that “all lives matter”.

David Evennett, 71, is MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford. His record shows that he voted against same-sex marriage in 2013, and has in general voted against laws to promote equality and human rights.

He recently received an email from a concerned constituent who raised the need for the investigation into Belly Mujinga’s death to be reopened.

Belly Mujinga worked at London’s Victoria station, where she was spat in the face by a man who told her he had coronavirus. She tragically died of the virus on April 5, leaving behind a husband and an 11-year-old daughter.

After “extensive inquiries” British Transport Police decided the attack did not lead to her death and no further action will be taken. Mujinga’s family and trade union are continuing to fight for justice, but anti-racism advocates say the case highlights how the burden of proof for holding institutions to account for BAME deaths is always “set beyond reach”.

Evennett’s constituent, who asked to be identified by her first name Betty, urged her MP to “recognise and lobby for the need of more effective regulations and protection of Black railway workers during this time” so that an assault like Mujinga’s does not take place again.

Betty says Evennett ignored her requests to call for the case to be reopened and investigated as a hate crime, as other MPs have done. An exchange of emails culminated in Evennett repeating the racist counterargument to Black Lives Matter: “All lives matter.”

“I would firstly advise that all lives matter, regardless of an individual’s ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation,” he told her – in spite of his own voting record opposing equal rights for LGBT+ people.

“The government’s number one priority is to protect the public health of every single person in this country,” he continued.

He strongly disagreed with Betty’s earlier suggestion that he had tailored his answer to her race, telling her he was “shocked” by the “baseless comment”.

PinkNews reached out to the MP’s office but received no comment from him. However, his assistant said that the email shared on social media was only a small extract of the wider correspondence, and claimed that this snippet was being “used to score political points” against Evennett.

Evennett declined to share the correspondence, or to explain why he feels he can invoke LGBT+ people under the umbrella of “all lives matter” when he himself voted against equal rights.

Betty clarified to PinkNews that the full email addressed the investigation into Mujinga’s death, which Evennett felt should be left to police. While he agreed to raise concerns about transport workers not receiving PPE, she says he “completely negated the role of race and how that impacts the safety of Black workers, especially in the current climate”.

“He has literally been arguing with me for two days because he doesn’t want to act on my behalf,” she added.

Belly Mujinga
Thousands of people gather in Hyde Park to demand justice for Belly Mujinga (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto/Getty)

“Belly Mujinga reminds me of my own mother, a Black key worker, and as it stands, the Black community make up a large proportion of the key workers during this pandemic,” she told PinkNews.

“They are often pressured into work despite underlying health conditions. They deserve to be protected and our concerns to our MPs deserve to not only to be heard but to be actioned.

“Despite what David Evennett says, this pandemic – along with Britain’s long history in race relations with the Black community – have shown that ‘all lives’ do not matter in this pandemic nor in this country, because it is specifically Black people who are disproportionately being affected by it, as proven in the recent COVID-19 report.

“I’d also like to remind David that it is his job to raise and action my concerns as a constituent, which he is failing to do.”

More: Belly Mujinga, black lives matter, Conservative Party, COVID-19, David Evennett, racism, tory mp

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