From Berlin to New Zealand, protests against death of George Floyd spread internationally

As demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd spread across the United States in recent days, protesters in cities around the world also took up the mantle to decry systemic racism and police brutality in the United States and at home.

Many people have watched with growing unease at the civil unrest in the US after the latest in a series of police killings of unarmed black men and women. Floyd died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, including several minutes after he became unresponsive. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with murder. The three other officers with him were also fired.

Some 4,000 people marched in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland on Monday to protest the killing of George Floyd as well as to stand up against police violence and racism in their own country. Demonstrators marched to the US consulate, where they kneeled in protest holding banners with slogans like, “I can’t breathe” (words spoken by Floyd just before his death), “The real virus is racism” and “Black Lives Matter”. Hundreds more joined peaceful protests and vigils elsewhere in New Zealand, where Monday was a public holiday.

In France, family and friends of a French black man who died shortly after he was arrested by police in 2016 have called for a protest on Tuesday that will also pay homage to George Floyd.

The circumstances of the death of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old of Malian origin, are still under investigation by justice authorities. Calls for the protest in front of a Paris court come after some medical experts last week attributed the death to a cardiac problem, the latest in a series of conflicting medical assessments. French police claimed Traore died of a heart attack due to pre-existing medical condition. His family said he died from asphyxiation from police tactics.

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In a video message published on social media, Traore’s sister Assa Traore calls for protesters to express their indignation “at a time when the world, when France is outraged by the death of George Floyd”. She said “they used the same words, their last words: ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.'”

At a gathering in central London on Sunday, thousands offered their support for American demonstrators, chanting “No justice, no peace!” and waving placards asking, “How many more?”

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the US embassy in Berlin for a second day on Sunday, chanting “Black Lives Matter”.

In Brazil, hundreds of people protested crimes committed by the police against black people in Rio de Janeiro’s working-class neighbourhoods, known as favelas. Police used tear gas to disperse them.

An anti-racism protest degenerated into clashes between Montreal police and demonstrators, with police declared the gathering illegal after they say projectiles were thrown at officers who responded with pepper spray and tear gas. Some windows were smashed and fires were set.

Diplomatic games

In some nations the unrest became a chance to undermine past US criticism of their own records on civil rights. Iranian state television repeatedly aired images of the US unrest, and Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi urged the US government to stop the violence.

“To American officials and police: Stop violence against your people and let them breathe,” Mousavi said at a news conference in Tehran on Monday. He also told the American people that “the world is standing with you”. Iran has come under harsh criticism internationally for its own violent crackdown on demonstrations following a contested 2009 election and its continuing suppression of dissent.

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Russia accused the United States of having systemic human rights problems.

And state-controlled media in China saw the protests through the prism of American views on Hong Kong’s anti-government demonstrations, which China has long said the US has encouraged. The ruling Communist Party newspaper Global Times said Chinese experts had noted that US politicians might think twice before commenting again on Hong Kong again, adding that such words “might backfire”.

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Monday also reported on the demonstrations, saying that protesters “harshly condemned” a white policeman’s “lawless and brutal murder” of a black citizen.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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