Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 28 September 2020

'George Floyd's life mattered': Meghan Markle addresses police brutality in graduation speech

'The only wrong thing to say is to say nothing', the actress told students of her former LA school

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has addressed the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality in the US in a graduation speech to her old school in Los Angeles.

The actress and mother of one, 38, made the comments in a video shared with Los Feliz's Immaculate Heart High School.

"Graduating class of 2020, for the past couple of weeks, I've been planning on saying a few words to you for your graduation," she said in a video message, shared with BuzzFeed News. "And, as we all have seen over the past few weeks, what is happening in our country and in our state and in our home town of LA has been absolutely devastating."

Widespread protests have broken out across the US since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on this neck for almost nine minutes.

"The only wrong thing to say is to say nothing because George Floyd's life mattered, and Breonna Taylor's life mattered, and Philando Castile's life mattered, and Tamir Rice's life mattered, and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we don't know," Meghan continued in her speech.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced on Wednesday that Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was arrested in the killing of Floyd, has been charged with second-degree murder.

The duchess, who is biracial, recalled a story about starting the school semester at Immaculate Heart High School around the time of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which happened after the acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers who used excessive force against Rodney King.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 02: Protesters denouncing police brutality and systemic racism march in the street in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Days of protest, sometimes violent, have followed in many cities across the country in response to the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th. Scott Heins/Getty Images/AFP == FOR NEWSPAPERS, INTERNET, TELCOS & TELEVISION USE ONLY ==
Protesters denouncing police brutality and systemic racism march in the street in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. AP

She recounted seeing destruction in the city. "Those memories don't go away," she said.

"I can't imagine that at 17 or 18 years old, that you would have to have a different version of that experience. That's something that you should have an understanding of as a history lesson, not as a reality. So I'm sorry that, in a way, we have not gotten the world in a place that you deserve it to be," she said.

That's something that you should have an understanding of as a history lesson, not as a reality

Meghan tried to end on a positive note by highlighting the ongoing movement towards racial justice and how students can contribute to it in the future.

"The other thing that I do remember about that time is how people came together ... We are seeing that right now ... We are seeing people stand in solidarity. We are seeing communities come together and to uplift, and you are going to be part of this movement ... Now you get to be part of rebuilding," she said.

"I know you know that black lives matter, so I'm already excited for what you are going to do in the world. You are equipped. You are ready. We need you and you are prepared."

Updated: June 4, 2020 12:33 PM

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