LONDON - Protests have erupted in cities around the world in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the United States.
The protests follow the death in Minnesota of George Floyd, a 46-year old black man, last week in police custody.
In central London, demonstrations turned violent Sunday as police tried to clear a road junction outside Parliament. Police made 23 arrests. Protesters accused the police of triggering the violence, an accusation that authorities denied.
“We came out here peacefully to protest the injustice in the U.K.,” one demonstrator told reporters. “It's now a global issue with the murder of George Floyd, everything that's going on in the world.’
Hundreds of people also gathered in central London’s Trafalgar Square chanting, “George Floyd, Say His Name.”
Demonstrators also chanted, “I Can’t Breathe” as they marched on the U.S. Embassy — the words spoken by Floyd as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes as Floyd lay handcuffed and prone on the ground after he was arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bank note. He was pronounced dead later that day. Chauvin was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Smaller protests broke out in the south London suburbs, home to many ethnic minority communities.
“Can you imagine, we are in a whole world pandemic, and people are still brutalizing innocent people,” said a protest organizer named Aba. “When they stop, when police stop brutalizing innocent black people, then we'll stop.”
The U.S. protests resonate with minority communities in Britain, said lawyer and activist Shola Mos-Shogbamimu.
“Police brutality exists in the United Kingdom. Racial profiling exists in the United Kingdom, and it’s existed for the longest time,” Mos-Shogbamimu told VOA in an interview Monday. “And it means for a lot of black people, particularly young black men, that they are targeted simply because of the color of their skin. What you are seeing right now is we’re getting more mobile phone (video) evidence. And social media platforms have become the wireless platform to communicate this information worldwide, in real time, instantly.”
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Sunday that the government wants to see a de-escalation of tensions in the United States and for people in the U.S. to “come together.”
Some critics, including many British lawmakers, argue the demonstrators were putting lives at risk by not adhering to social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Racism did not stop when (the) coronavirus hit the planet,” Mos-Shogbamimu said.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered in Berlin over the weekend. Remnants of Germany's Berlin Wall were daubed with graffiti mourning the death of Floyd and demanding justice.
Several thousand people marched in New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, and in the capital, Wellington, and other areas Monday to show solidarity with U.S. demonstrators.
In Amsterdam's city center, crowds swelled from what was expected to be a few hundred demonstrators, to a turnout of several thousand protesters on Monday, according to Reuters.