In Depth

George Floyd: how the US race protests spread around the world

Black Lives Matter demonstrations held in major cities from London to Auckland

US protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd have inspired similar demonstrations in cities worldwide amid growing anger over police brutality and racism.

Images and video footage showing US police attacking peaceful protestors and journalists across the nation over the past week have caused international outrage.

Now, tens of thousands of people are taking to the streets on different continents to show solidarity with the US protesters and call for an end to injustice in their own countries.

France

Black Lives Matter protests in Paris have seen outbursts of violence between demonstrators and police.

“As we watched the aftermath of clashes in Porte de Clichy, a sign caught my eye,” reports Sky News Europe correspondent Adam Parsons.  

“It said ‘Qui nous protege de la police?’ It translates, simply, as ‘who protects us from the police?’ And it’s a question that is now resonating in Europe, just as it reverberates in the United States.”

Much of the anger against police in France is linked to the killing of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old black citizen who died in police custody in the capital in 2016.

His family say he was asphyxiated when three arrested officers pinned him down with their combined bodyweight. Official reports indicate that Traore died of heart failure, and the officers who detained him were exonerated last week following a police investigation, reports the BBC.

According to The Local, the country’s black and North African communities have made repeated “accusations of bias and violence against French police”, and “racially mixed areas - in particular Paris’s northern suburbs - have seen regular clashes with police and accusations of police brutality”.

UK

A wave of protests in solidarity with US demonstrators have been staged in London, with protestors carried signs reading “Justice for George Floyd,” “racism has no place”, “enough is enough”, and “black lives matter”.

“On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators broke social distancing regulations to gather in Trafalgar Square for a ‘Kneel for Floyd’ protest, while hundreds marched through Peckham and Brixton in south London on Monday,” says the London Evening Standard.

And further protests are planned, including a gathering at Hyde Park today.

In a Twitter video posted after Sunday’ demonstration, an 18-year-old protest organiser named only as Aima said: “You guys are saying that the corona pandemic will kill us, but police brutality will kill us first. I’m already risking my life on a daily basis. Corona’s not going to kill me before the police kill me.”

Germany

Crowds of protestors have gathered around the US embassy and popular tourist areas in Berlin.

In Mauerpark, where street artists can paint sections of the former Berlin wall, a memorial to US police killing victim Floyd has been painted on the wall.

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund player Jadon Sancho lifted his shirt after scoring a goal in a Bundesliga match on Sunday to reveal a T-shirt reading: “Justice for George Floyd.”

The US protests have also been backed by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who said on Tuesday that peaceful demonstrations against police brutality were “more than legitimate”. 

Adressing reporters at a news conference, Maas called for press freedom for journalists covering the unrest in the US, reports Deutsche Welle

“I can only express the hope that the peaceful protests don’t turn violent, and even more the hope that they will have an impact,” he added.

Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that Canadians were watching the violence in the neighbouring US with “shock and horror”, but admitted: “We have work to do as well in Canada.”  

Thousands of anti-racism protesters have taken to the streets in cities including Toronto and Montreal to demand answers about the death of a 29-year-old black Toronto resident. Regis Korchinski-Paquet fell to her death from the balcony of her family’s  24th-floor apartment last Wednesday while police were there investigating a domestic incident.

Her family subsuquently claimed on social media that she was pushed off the balcony by police, state broadcaster CBC reports.

Korchinski-Paquet’s death came weeks after a 26-year-old black man, D’Andre Campbell, was shot dead by police at his home in the nearby city of Brampton, reports The Guardian. Campbell, who is said to have suffered mental illness, had called 911 himself.

Addressing a press briefing on Friday, Trudeau said: “Anti-black racism – racism – is real. It’s in the United States but it’s also in Canada and we know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every single day.”

He continued: “I call on all Canadians - whether it’s anti-black racism or anti-Asian racism or racism discrimination of any type, to stand together in solidarity.” 

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New Zealand

Thousands of protestors marched on the US Embassy in Auckland, and in other cities across the country, on Monday.

As well as carrying anti-racism signs and chanting slogans, many demonstrators also performed a Haka, the traditional Maori ceremonial dance, in solidarity with US protestors.

Time says that along with the police killing of Floyd in the US, the New Zealand protests have focused on “the issue of what activist groups say is the disproportionate effect of armed policing on indigenous communities” in their country.

In a statement to the magazine, a spokesperson for anti-gun protest group Arms Down NZ compared the experiences of African-Americans with that of these indigenous communities.

“The thousands of Maori and Pasifika [Pacific] people marching today saw, in Floyd George’s dying gasps, the deaths of our own people at the hands of our own government,” said the group. “We marched to defend Black Lives overseas and to fight for our own lives against our own racist police.”

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