Global race protests mark George Floyd’s death

WASHINGTON, June 7 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Taking a knee, chanting and
ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney
to London kicked off a weekend of global rallies Saturday against
racism and police brutality.

The death during the arrest 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
spreading in other parts of the world.

In LONDON, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke for many concerned officials as he tried to convince Britons not to gather for events involving
more than six people this weekend, no matter the cause or their rage.

“Like so many people, I am appalled by the death of George Floyd. I
understand why people are deeply upset,” the UK health minister said.

“But we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a
real threat.”

Londoners intend to rally outside parliament and hold a big demonstration in front of the US embassy on the opposite bank of the Thames River on Sunday.

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.

Tens of thousands of Australians defied government orders to stay
home regardless, holding up signs and wearing face masks marked up “I
can’t breathe” — the words Floyd kept repeating while handcuffed as a
policeman knelt on his neck.

“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 thousands who turned up thinking the Sydney ban was
still in place.

Thousands more dressed in black to mourn Floyd’s death in Melbourne
and other Australian cities.

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 throws 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,” the embassy said of the
London protests, adopting a more conciliatory tone than the one taken
by Trump.

“There remains much work to be done.”

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

In Paris, police banned a rally scheduled outside the US embassy
compound and a second one on the Champs de Mars park facing the Eiffel
Tower.

The Parisian authorities said the events denouncing police
brutality were organised via social networks without official notice
or consultation.

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 across Britain, in
Amsterdam, and for the second week running in major US cities.

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 have 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. — NNN-AGENCIES