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‘Burn down racism’: global protests spread over George Floyd’s death

 

Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality.

The death at police hands of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in the US state of Minnesota has brought tens of thousands out onto the streets during a pandemic that is ebbing in Asia and Europe but still spreading in other parts of the world.

“It is time to burn down institutional racism,” one speaker shouted through a megaphone at a hooting crowd of thousands outside the parliament building in London.

“This is how we take care of each other,” she added after urging everyone to pull on a face mask. “This is how we stay alive.”

Officials around the world have been trying to balance understanding at people’s pent-up anger with warnings about the dangers of a disease that has officially claimed nearly 400,000 lives globally.

Yet tens of thousands of Australians defied Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to “find a better way”, and thousands more in Britain ignored the health minister’s warning that the “coronavirus remains a real threat”.

“We want justice! We want to breathe!” hundreds chanted in Tunis, as demonstrations convulsing US cities spilt out across the world.

Dressed in black
“Are you sure of your silence,” asked a poster of a man laying a pink rose at a memorial set up outside the president’s office in Pretoria, South Africa.

In Sydney, aboriginal protesters performed a traditional smoking ceremony at the start of a “Black Lives Matter” protest, which was sanctioned at the last minute after initially being banned on health grounds.

Many held up signs and wore face masks marked up “I can’t breathe” — the words Floyd kept repeating while handcuffed as a policeman knelt on his neck.

One placard simply read “8:46” — the amount of time the 46-year-old was pinned to the ground by the white officer before his death.

“The fact that they have tried to push us all back and stop the protest, it makes people want to do it even more,” said Jumikah Donovan, one of the thousands who turned up thinking the Sydney ban was still in place.

Floyd’s death came during the spread of a disease that has disproportionately affected black people and ethnic minorities in global centres such as London and New York.

It also came in the throes of a historic economic downturn that has statistically affected the poor and marginalised the most.

This confluence, and accompanying outrage at US President Donald Trump’s partisan response, has refocused attention on the world’s racial divides like few other events since the 1960s.

The US embassy in London said it stood “united with the British public in grief”.

“We welcome this exercise of free speech, which contributes to constructive dialogue, education and change,” it said, adopting a more conciliatory tone than the one taken by Trump.

“There remains much work to be done.”

Thousands defy bans
Memorial events and peaceful tributes were to stretch in Europe from Warsaw to Lisbon on Saturday, before shifting to major US cities and to Montreal in Canada.

In Paris, police banned a rally scheduled outside the US embassy compound and another near the Eiffel Tower.

But on Tuesday, another banned rally in Paris drew more than 20,000 people in support of the family of Adama Traore, a young black man who died in police custody in 2016.

There were also events scheduled Saturday in Amsterdam, and in Madrid on Brussels on Sunday as well as for the second weekend running across the United States.

Tens of thousands were expected in Washington, where Mayor Muriel Bowse renamed the area outside the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza”.

With tensions soaring, several US police departments launched investigations into officers who were recorded hitting, pushing or baton-charging protesters and some reporters — including foreign ones.

The protests have even resonated in war-scarred countries such as Iraq, where the “American Revolts” and the Arabic phrase for “We want to breathe, too” hashtags are spreading on social media.

“I think what the Americans are doing is brave and they should be angry, but rioting is not the solution,” said Yassin Alaa, a 20-year-old camped out in Iraq’s protest-hit Tahrir Square.

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26 Comments

  1. Reply

    Good article

  2. Reply

    Racism affect everything..it has to stop.thanks to does who are protesting

  3. Reply

    this is a good post. nice

  4. Reply

    good

  5. Reply

    Total no to racism

  6. Reply

    That’s good

  7. Reply

    Great article

  8. Reply

    Justice must be served

  9. Reply

    We are all one race

  10. Reply

    Great article

  11. Profile photo ofItz Kvng Twitch

    Reply

    Very interesting

  12. Reply

    Nice article

  13. Profile photo ofChukwucee

    Reply

    Resourceful information

  14. Reply

    Racism is very bad and I can say is a sin even though the bible didn’t record it as well but I know the same bible recorded that we all are one in Christ and children of Abraham by fait so why all these
    I cry bitterly hearing about racism

  15. Profile photo ofSIRMUSTY

    Reply

    this is getting serious

  16. Reply

    Wow nice one

  17. Profile photo ofKreator

    Reply

    nice article

  18. Reply

    #Blacklivesmatter

  19. Reply

    Racism is very bad

  20. Reply

    Racism is a virus that is even killing us faster than any deadly disease

  21. Reply

    Nice information
    Kip me updated on more

  22. Reply

    Gòod article

  23. Reply

    Say no to racism

  24. Reply

    Very good
    Thanks for sharing

  25. Reply

    Good

  26. Reply

    Nice

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