African-American’s custodial death sparks worldwide protests

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The death of African American George Floyd in the United States, after a police officer pressed a knee into his neck while detaining him, has triggered worldwide protests against racism and brutality.

Protesters clashed with riot police firing tear gas for a second night in Minneapolis on Wednesday in an outpouring of rage over the death of a black man seen in a widely circulated video gasping for breath as a white officer knelt on his neck.

The video, taken by an onlooker to Monday night’s fatal encounter between police and George Floyd, 46, showed him lying face down and handcuffed, groaning for help and repeatedly saying, “please, I can’t breathe,” before growing motionless.

The second day of demonstrations, accompanied by looting and vandalism, began hours after Mayor Jacob Frey urged prosecutors to file criminal charges against the white policeman shown pinning Floyd to the street.

Floyd, who was unarmed and reportedly suspected of trying to pass counterfeit bills at a corner eatery, was taken by ambulance from the scene of his arrest and pronounced dead the same night at a hospital.

The policeman shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck and three fellow officers involved were dismissed from the police department on Tuesday as the FBI opened an investigation.

Hundreds of protesters, many with faces covered, thronged streets around the Third Precinct police station late on Wednesday, about half a mile from where Floyd had been arrested, chanting, “No justice, no peace” and “I can’t breathe.”

The crowd grew to thousands as night fell and the protest turned into a standoff outside the station, where police in riot gear formed barricade lines while protesters taunted them from behind makeshift barricades of their own.

Police, some taking positions on rooftops, used tear gas, plastic bullets and concussion grenades to keep the crowds at bay. Protesters pelted police with rocks and other projectiles. Some threw tear gas canisters back at the officers.

Television news images from a helicopter over the area showed dozens of people looting a Target store, running out with clothing and shopping carts full of merchandise.

Fires erupted after dark at several businesses, including an auto parts store. Eyewitnesses said the blazes appeared to be the work of arsonists. Media said a smaller, peaceful protest was held outside the home of one of the police officers.

Authorities in some countries are objecting to the rallies, on grounds they heighten the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Here are some of the latest demonstrations outside the United States:

Friday, June 5

FRANKFURT/HAMBURG – Thousands of Germans protested against racism, holding banners with slogans such as: “Your Pain Is My Pain, Your Fight Is My Fight”. Some people wore a clenched fist image on their anti-coronavirus masks.

LONDON – Several dozen people gathered in Trafalgar Square, many wearing masks and some kneeling in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Placards read: “White People Must Do More”, “Colour Is Not A Crime” and “Justice for Belly Mujinga” in reference to a rail worker who died of COVID-19 after being spat at by a man who said he was infected.

TILBURG/EINDHOVEN – The Netherlands has seen the largest anti-racism rallies in living memory this week, with thousands coming out across the nation. More protests were planned for Tilburg and Eindhoven on Friday.

CANBERRA – Demonstrators marched to Parliament House during a Black Lives Matter protest, social media images showed, despite Australian authorities’ disapproval due to the risk of coronavirus infection.

VIENNA – Demonstrators gathered near the U.S. Embassy, holding banners, including: “There Are No Races Just One Species” and “Racism Is The Real Virus.”

OSLO – Several thousand people protested in front of the Norwegian parliament while hundreds more gathered outside the U.S. Embassy. Authorities had said only 50 people were allowed to gather, but police said they would not interfere with peaceful demonstrators. TV footage showed protesters were not following the recommended one-metre social distancing guidelines, though most wore masks.

 

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