THERE’S a first time for everything: I agree with Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam when she accuses the US government of double standards ("Lam mocks ‘double standards’ over Hong Kong as violence engulfs US cities", The Herald, June 3). I was able to join one of the biggest demonstrations in Hong Kong last year, and experienced the tactics of the Hong Kong police, including the prolific use of tear gas. Those tactics have, rightly, been condemned by western governments. But what I’ve seen on TV these past few nights has been much worse: the American police have been less disciplined than their counterparts in Hong Kong, and much more aggressive and violent.

Racism has disfigured the United States since its founding. Black communities have been left to rot in squalid ghettos where poverty, drugs and crime are endemic and hope pointless. My own hope was that the election of Barack Obama in 2008 would be a turning point, and change would follow. But the steady stream of incidents where black men have been killed, simply because they were in a place where others thought they shouldn’t be, destroyed that hope. And now we’ve seen, on video, a black man, in handcuffs, being held down by a white police officer and pleading that he couldn’t breathe, until the inevitable happened and he stopped breathing.

The outrage that followed is entirely justified. Most of it has been expressed peacefully; but even peaceful protests have been squashed by violent and out of control police, dressed in full riot gear, and by heavily armed National Guardsmen in military uniform. America, Land of the Free? Don’t make me laugh. Poor America, led by a crazed, pompous, arrogant fool, who thinks it's smart to throw petrol onto the fires of racism.

And this is the country we’re supposed to have a special relationship with? The one Boris Johnson is convinced we’ll have a great trade deal with after we bail out of the EU? The US is a fantastic country and its people have demonstrated great strength and strong values. But as of now, and as long as it keeps Donald Trump as its president, it’s an international pariah and should be called out as such by governments around the world.

I hope the demonstrators in the cities of the US will keep marching, keep demonstrating. I hope they will do so peacefully, following the guidance of Martin Luther King and, before him, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi; the latter being the prime proponent of passive resistance, satyagraha.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.