First black mayor of Montgomery accuses Donald Trump of being 'gas-lighter'

The first black mayor of Montgomery, Alabama, one of the civil rights cradles in America, has told ITV News President Trump is "absolutely not" the leader to deliver change on racism and police brutality in the United States.

Steven Reed was speaking in the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests which began in the US following the death during arrest of George Floyd, a black man in Minnesota, and spread across the world.

Mayor Reed, a Democrat, described Donald Trump as a "gas-lighter" when describing racial inequality in the US and said he did not believe the president would would be the one to bring about change.

Mayor Reed - elected six months ago - said the Trump administration had failed to show "leadership" on the issue as well as during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to ITV News he said: "Parts of these seeds have been planted under his [Trump's] administration because of the rhetoric and because of the actions that he has shown".

Mayor Reed said he was "disgusted" by the death of George Floyd - an unarmed black man - at the hands of a white police officer.

The newly-elected Mayor said he had watched the footage of Mr Floyd's arrest - where an officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds - twice.

"Once was the first time I saw it and the second time was to show my sons.

"I wanted to show them that heinous act because I didn't think there was any other way for me to get the point across."

"George Floyd could have easily been so many of my friends or my family," Mayor Reed told ITV News' Julie Etchingham.

The father-of-three said the death of Mr Floyd was "painful as a brother, as a father, as a husband, as a black man in the United States of America".

Mayor Reed added: "There was a lot of anger, there was a lot of frustration, and there was a lot of rage that I felt in seeing that happen".

On what action needed to be taken in the US, the Democrat said: "America has not come to grips with its original sin" and needed to confront "a legacy of racism" in the country.

"History does not have to be as white as the driven snow, history just needs to be truthful and it needs to be honest - and we have not done that".

The worldwide action, sparked by the death of George Floyd, has revived memories of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

The city of Montgomery - where Rosa Parks made her famous protest, refusing to give up her seat on a bus - was at the heart of that action.

In the wake of George Floyd's death, Democrat Mayor Reed says the city has again felt the impact.

"Like it has in many other communities, it has illuminated the gap that exists in terms of how black men and women have been treated by law enforcement all too often in this country for not just years but decades, if not centuries.

"I think what it has done is galvanised the movement of black, white, brown, and people of all generations and all races to try to stand up to seek reform and our law enforcement policies and procedures."

To protesters in the UK, the Mayor said "thank you" and said "we stand together in solidarity".

Demonstrations have taken place across the UK in recent weeks - with a number of statues removed due to their links to Briton's colonialist history and the slave trade.

Asked what he thought Rosa Parks would think of the current movement, Mayor Reed said she "would be proud of those who had protested peacefully".

He added: "What we have to do as leaders is not just quote Dr Martin Luther King Jr, or not just quote Mrs Rosa Parks, but live by their example and lead by their example.

"We're looking for fairness, equality, and most importantly justice."