Europe joins global protests

Source:AFP Published: 2020/6/8 17:28:41 Last Updated: 2020/6/8 16:28:41

Demonstrators rally across continent for racial justice

Protesters clash with riot police during an anti-racism protest in Brussels, Belgium on Sunday, as part of a weekend of "Black Lives Matter" worldwide protests over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man killed by a white police in Minneapolis in the US. Photo: AFP

Calling for racial justice, protesters rallied across Europe on Sunday, joining a wave of demonstrations sparked by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of US police.

A video of the incident with Floyd pleading for his life in Minneapolis as a white police officer knelt on his neck has sparked protests worldwide, even as countries continue to discourage large gatherings to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

Several thousand people massed outside the US embassy in Madrid, shouting "I can't breathe," Floyd's last words, and demanding justice.

"Racism knows no borders," said Leinisa Seemdo, a 26-year-old Spanish translator from Cape Verde. "In all the countries where I have lived, I have experienced discrimination because of the color of my skin."

Rome's Piazza del Popolo ("People's Plaza") fell silent for eight minutes - roughly the time the policeman pressed his knee on Floyd's neck - as thousands of people took a knee in memory of Floyd, their fists in the air.

"We can't breathe," shouted the crowd, after the collective silence.

"It's really hard to live here," said Senegalese migrant Morikeba Samate, 32, one of the thousands to have arrived in Italy after risking the perilous crossing across the Mediterranean.

Opposition to that wave of migration buoyed the far-right in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

Floyd's death in May has unleashed the most serious and widespread civil unrest in the US since Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.

The police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder while three fellow officers face lesser charges.

More than 1,000 people on Sunday also gathered at a Black Lives Matter protest near the US embassy in Budapest.

Hungarian reggae singer G Ras told cheering protesters: "If we want to live in a better world, we need to radically change the way we live."

Almost 4,000 attended two similar events in the Netherlands, while thousands marched in cities across Britain.

Hip-hop artist Stormzy joined protesters marching for a second day running in London despite a ban against large gatherings during the coronavirus.

For the second day running, some demonstrators scuffled with police near Downing Street. There were also clashes outside the US embassy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery - and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account."

In Bristol, a city linked to the slave trade, the statue of trader Edward Colston was torn down Sunday and thrown into the harbor.

In Lausanne, Switzerland, a black-clad demonstrator's placard read: "my color is not a threat."

Some protesters there carried placards with the name of 40-year-old Nigerian Mike Ben Peter, who died while being arrested by the city's police in 2018.



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