Protests Over The Death of George Floyd Sweeps The Globe

Published June 1st, 2020 - 11:17 GMT
Syrian artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun finish a mural depicting George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man who died while while being arrested and pinned to the ground by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, in the town of Binnish in Syria's northwestern Idlib province on June 1, 2020. OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP
Syrian artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun finish a mural depicting George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man who died while while being arrested and pinned to the ground by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, in the town of Binnish in Syria's northwestern Idlib province on June 1, 2020. OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP
Highlights
The protests around the world were comparatively peaceful, although in London protesters outside the gates of Downing Street chanted, 'F**k the police.' 

Protests over the death of George Floyd have swept across the globe with demonstrations from Poland to New Zealand in solidarity with US demonstrators caught up in violent riots.

Thousands rallied outside the US embassies in London, Copenhagen and Berlin, chanting 'I can't breathe,' the words Floyd gasped as a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last Monday.

They defied coronavirus lockdown and social distancing rules in Dublin, Ireland; Toronto, Canada; Cardiff, Wales; and in Milan, Italy; to protest the latest African-American death in police custody in the States. 

Candles were lit in Krakow, Poland, and also in Mashhad, Iran, where leaders have cynically criticised Donald Trump's 'racism' and tweeted their support for #BlackLivesMatter.

In Germany's Bundesliga - Europe's first top flight soccer league to get back into action amid the pandemic - players wrote messages under their shirts and, inspired by the NFL, 'took a knee.'

England international Jadon Sancho was given a yellow card after revealing a 'Justice for George Floyd' shirt while celebrating his goal for Borussia Dortmund on Sunday and could face further sanction.

Dozens of American cities have been set ablaze over the last seven days in deadly clashes with police officers over the killing of Floyd, whose death is seen as a symbol of systemic police brutality against African-Americans. 

The protests around the world were comparatively peaceful, although in London protesters outside the gates of Downing Street chanted, 'F**k the police.' 

One of those chanting was waving the black and red flag of Antifa (anti-fascist). Donald Trump has accused the militant left-wingers of fomenting anarchist violence during the riots in the States. 

Twenty-three were arrested in the capital: three for breaching coronavirus legislation, two for assaulting officers and others for a range of offences including possession of an offensive weapon and breaches of COVID legislation.

Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators also packed the lawns outside Cardiff Castle and in St Peter's Square in Manchester they flocked with placards which said: 'The UK is not innocent.'

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday appealed for the US not to 'tear itself apart' and said that the Floyd case was 'very distressing'. 

But he insisted he would not comment on the backlash against Donald Trump's response to a wave of furious protests across the US, merely saying he wanted the country to 'come back together.' 

BLM, which has become an international group after it launched seven years ago in response to African-American deaths in police custody, was successful on Sunday in mobilising thousands throughout the world. 

In New Zealand protesters gathered across the North and South Islands in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

BLM protests in Australia were cancelled, however, over fears of violence. 

Nigerian-New Zealand musician, Mazbou Q, who organised the protest, said the gatherings were not just about the death of Floyd.

'The ongoing persecution of the black community is an ongoing phenomenon. The same white supremacy which has led to disproportionate killings of black people in the US exists here in New Zealand,' he told the crowd.

'We pride ourselves on being a nation of empathy, kindness and love. But the silence from the government and the media does not reflect that at all. In fact, it makes us complicit.'

Nigerian-born mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya was one of about 4,000 demonstrators who gathered in Auckland 

In Christchurch, where 51 people were killed by a self-proclaimed white supremacist last year, one speaker, Josephine Varghese, told the crowd: 'We demand racial and economic justice. Black lives matter, indigenous lives matter, Muslim lives matter.' 

In London one demonstrator said that the protests were 'very important because it is sending a clear message that we have had enough racial injustice in our country'.

Isabelle Orsini, 20, originally from New York, said: 'The US obviously has a much deeper and darker history of black discrimination compared to the UK. The reason people are so angry is because this is reopening wounds that go back hundreds of years.

'It is very important that we do whatever it takes to tell our government that racism will not be tolerated.'

After marching on the US Embassy, they crossed back over the Thames before gathering at the base of Grenfell Tower where 72 mainly black and ethnic minority people died in a 2017 fire.

A reverend at a church on Trafalgar Square, where the protest started, said she was 'very sympathetic' towards those marching but expressed some concern about how close they were.

Reverend Sally Hitchiner, associate vicar at St Martin-in-the-Fields, said: 'It's showing there are people in the UK who care passionately about the situation in the US.

'Clearly they're not following lockdown and social distancing, but I think there's a huge amount of passion there and that's overriding their concerns.

'It's an issue that requires passion but at the same time there's a huge amount of risk in what they're doing.' 

Lat night chaos continued to unfold in cities across the US with more than 50 Secret Service agents injured in clashes with protesters in Washington DC and a church torched close to the White House. 

Tens of thousands of people gathered as the National Guard was deployed to over half the states in the country on Sunday for protests that have seen 4,100 people get arrested this weekend alone.

But even the threat of heavy officer presence didn't deter protesters in Philadelphia from hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, crowds to raid stores including Coach and Chanel in New York and San Francisco, and fires being ignited mere feet from the White House. 

Late Sunday in Washington D.C. a fire was set ablaze in the historic St. John's Episcopal Church and Lafayette Park in front of the White House. 

In the last seven days hundreds of protests have unfolded in at least 145 cities across the country as people gather in outrage over the horrifying death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while in the custody of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Memorial Day.

The demonstrations have marked unparalleled civil unrest in the US that hasn't been seen since the 1968 assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

At least 40 cities have imposed curfews in light of the riots and violence and National Guard members have been activated in 26 states and Washington, DC. 

Washington state governor Jay Inslee was among those to send for the National Guard after vandalism and looting in multiple cities, calling the riots 'illegal and dangerous' but adding they should not 'detract from the anger so many feel at the deep injustice laid so ugly and bare by the death of George Floyd'.  

In total at least five people have been killed in protest violence after gunfire rang out in Detroit and Indianapolis and in Omaha a 22-year-old black protester was killed in a struggle with a local business owner.

Two Atlanta police officers were fired Sunday after video emerged showing them using excessive force during protests this weekend, including tasing and dragging two college students from a car.

St. John's cathedral, which was opened in 1816, was set ablaze Sunday night in the nation's capital, but it's not clear how the fire started. The fire was put out shortly after 11pm.

A fire was also set in Lafayette Park, located just in front of the White House, where a protester set a US flag on fire sending smoke into the air as more than 1,000 gathered and raised their fists in solidarity. 

Fury erupted even as it neared curfew in Washington DC and as police fired tear gas and pepper spray amid blazes in the capital.

On Sunday alone more than 50 Secret Service officers were injured so far, a senior official told Fox News, after rioters threw bottles and Molotov cocktails at them.

 

People were seen throwing branches and fireworks into the fires as police advanced forward in a line in a bid to push back the crowds to send people home as curfew is called for 11pm local time and will lift Monday morning at 6am, as designated by Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

 

Before the blaze at the church broke out church officials said they were thankful that the church wasn't hit by protests the day before.

'We are fortunate that the damage to the buildings is limited,' Rev. Rob Fischer, the rector of the church, said earlier on Sunday. He said that that same morning church officials had secured its valuables.

In Manhattan a line of cops armed with plastic shields and batons were seen storming into a crowd of protesters on Sunday evening amid growing agitation. 

A circle of eight cops was seen gathering around one protester, flinging him to the ground and arresting him. Nearby also in Manhattan a car was sent up in flames Sunday evening, leaving demonstrators scrambling.

In New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's daughter Chiara de Blaio was arrested Saturday night alongside protesters in Greenwich Village for unlawful assembly and was later released, police said. 

On Sunday stores across all boroughs were ransacked, including a Chanel in Soho and a Coach store in Midtown.

Around a dozen people were seen forcing entry into the Chanel located on Spring and Wooster after 11pm. One man was spotted leaving with four bags, as per the New York Post.

Two men fleeing the store were arrested down the block by cops who arrived two minutes after the break in.

In Los Angeles the county sheriff said people were out on the streets 'acting like terrorists' following a day that saw peaceful protests alongside widespread looting and store raids. 

'The peaceful [protesters]... tend to remain peaceful but what's embedded within them are people that are right now, they're just acting like terrorists, trying to instill fear, damage property and loot,' Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said to press Sunday. 

'There's no lawful protesters left anymore. Everybody who's here is just trying to do damage,' he added.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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