The untimely death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis law enforcement officers has prompted global protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
In London, hundreds of protestors gathered at Trafalgar Square on Sunday afternoon to “knee for Floyd.” Those who couldn’t attend in person were encouraged to kneel in their areas in solidarity. Carrying signs that read “Justice for George Floyd” and “I Can’t Breathe,” protestors moved from Trafalgar Square to the Downing Street gates, while some segued to the U.S. Embassy, where they held a sit-in protest.
The Trafalgar Square demonstrations came just a day after hundreds took to the streets in Peckham, south London, to protest Floyd’s death, at one point stopping all traffic on the main road.
The U.K. has had its own turbulent history between police and the black community, which came to a head in the 2011 Tottenham Riots — six days of rioting in response to the police killing of 29-year-old Mark Duggan.
More peaceful protests are scheduled to take place in Hyde Park, Parliament Square and the U.S. Embassy on June 3, 6 and 7, respectively. However, none of these protests originate from the official Black Lives Matter U.K. group, which has said it is still “discussing the implications of calling a mass march in the middle of a pandemic that is killing us the most.”
The U.K. has felt the brunt of coronavirus in Europe, with a staggering death toll of 38,376. The Office of National Statistics reported in early May that black men and women are almost twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than white people in England and Wales.
Meanwhile, in Berlin, thousands of protestors gathered on Saturday outside the U.S. embassy — located on Pariser Platz, next to the iconic Brandenberg Gate — to protest Floyd’s death. Attendees held up signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for George Floyd.”
In Canada, thousands turned out at Toronto’s Christie Pitts Park on Saturday and marched throughout the city to police headquarters downtown to protest the deaths of both Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a woman who died last week after falling from her 24th-floor balcony after police officers were called to her home. Toronto Police are currently investigating the incident.
Floyd died on May 25 after he was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed and unarmed Floyd, who repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.