George Floyd, Anti-Racism and Protests Against Police Violence Echo Globally

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Protesters raise their fists in Parliament Square Garden around the statue of Winston Churchill which has graffiti with the words "was a racist" outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.  (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Thousands of people took to the streets around the world to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement and express thoughts on racism and injustice in their own cities and communities.

George Floyd’s death has struck a chord with minorities protesting discrimination — including demonstrators in cities from the Bay Area to England, Senegal, South Korea and Hong Kong — just to name a few. Here are a few highlights.

Please note: This is not a comprehensive list, and due to the structural inequities of the global media system it may overly emphasize voices from the Global North.

Bristol & London:

Protesters in the English port of Bristol vented their anger at the country’s colonial history by toppling a statue of a 17th-century slave trader.

Demonstrators attached ropes to a statue of Edward Colston before pulling it down to cheers and roars of approval from the crowd.

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In London, thousands of people congregated around the U.S. Embassy for the second day running, making clear their message wasn’t just aimed at America.


“Everyone knows that this represents more than just George Floyd, more than just America, but racism all around the world,” said Darcy Bourne, a London-based student.

Protesters, many of whom were wearing face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus, were “using this time when they’re out of work to unite and come together and make a change because it’s been like this for too long now,” she said.

Hong Kong:

About 20 people staged a rally in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in Hong Kong on Sunday outside the U.S. Consulate in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

“It’s a global issue,” said Quinland Anderson, a 28-year-old British citizen living in Hong Kong. “We have to remind ourselves despite all we see going on in the U.S. and in the other parts of the world, black lives do indeed matter.”

Organizers called off the Hong Kong rally late Saturday because of the city’s coronavirus restrictions. Those that still showed up gathered in groups of eight to follow size limits on public gatherings.

Dakar:

In Senegal, people staged a protest in front of the African Renaissance Monument in the capital of Dakar, holding placards with slogans such as “Enough is enough.”

Rome & Milan:

A rally in Rome’s sprawling People’s Square was noisy, but peaceful, with the majority of protesters wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus. Participants listened to speeches and held up handmade placards saying “Black Lives Matter” and “It’s a White Problem.”

Among those present was 26-year-old Ghanaian Abdul Nassir, who is studying for a master’s in business management at one of the Italian capital’s public universities.

“It’s quite unfortunate, you know, in this current 21st century that people of color are being treated as if they are lepers,” Nassir told The Associated Press. He said he occasionally has felt racist attitudes, most notably when riding the subway.

Also in Italy’s financial capital, Milan, a few thousand protesters gathered in a square outside the central train station Sunday afternoon.

Organizers told participants that, in Italy, the Black Lives Matter slogan means “avoid seeing black bodies as if they’re foreigners” and not as citizens. One participant held a cardboard sign written in English, reading, “I Fight For My Kids.”

One of those addressing the crowd said that in Italy, Black Lives Matter means not delaying legislative reform to make it easier to receive citizenship.

Foreigners born in Italy aren’t automatically eligible for citizenship until they reach 18 after continuously living in the country. In recent years, efforts have failed to enact legislation to allow foreigners’ children born in Italy to become citizens while still minors if they’ve attended Italian schools. Parents complain that their children, although identifying as Italian and speaking fluent Italian, are viewed as second-class citizens.

Seoul:

In South Korea, protesters gathered for a second straight day to denounce Floyd’s death. Wearing masks and black shirts, dozens of demonstrators marched through a commercial district amid a police escort, carrying signs such as “George Floyd Rest in Peace” and “Koreans for Black Lives Matter.”

Berlin:

In Germany, events took place across the country, but in Berlin police said 15,000 people rallied on the German capital’s Alexander Square, chanting Floyd’s name and holding up signs with slogans such as “Stop police brutality.”

Last week, Berlin became the first German state to pass its own anti-discrimination law. The law bars public authorities — including police — from discriminating against anyone based on background, skin color, gender, religion, disabilities, worldview, age, class, education and sexual identity.

Madrid:

In Spain, several thousand protesters gathered on the streets of Barcelona and at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid.

Many in Madrid carried homemade signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” “Human rights for all” and “Silence is pro-racist.”

“We are not only doing this for our brother George Floyd,” said Thimbo Samb, a spokesman for the group that organized the events in Spain mainly through social media. “Here in Europe, in Spain, where we live, we work, we sleep and pay taxes, we also suffer racism.”

Associated Press reporters Frank Jordans, Frances D’Emilio, Joseph Wilson, Katie Tam, John Leicester, and Daniel Cole contributed to this report in addition to NPR's Rob Schmitz.