Protesters support Black Lives Matter on three continents

The demonstrations followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The protest in Berlin
The protest in Berlin

Thousands of people have rallied in Europe and Australia to honour George Floyd and to voice support for what is becoming an international Black Lives Matter movement.

The worldwide wave of solidarity following the death of Mr Floyd in Minneapolis also served to highlight racial discrimination outside the United States.

In Paris, demonstrators tried to gather in front of the US Embassy, defying restrictions imposed by authorities because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They were met by riot police who turned people on their way to the embassy, which French security forces sealed off behind an imposing ring of metal barriers and road blocks.

“You can fine me 10,000 or 20,000 times, the revolt will happen anyway,” Egountchi Behanzin, a founder of the Black African Defence League, told officers who stopped him to check his ID documents before he got close to the diplomatic building. “It is because of you that we are here.”

In Sydney, protesters won a last-minute appeal against a ruling declaring their rally was unauthorised.

Paris protest
Demonstrators in Paris (AP)

The New South Wales Court of Appeal gave the green light just 12 minutes before the rally was scheduled to start, meaning those taking part could not be arrested.

Up to 1,000 protesters had already gathered in the Town Hall area of Sydney ahead of the decision.

Mr Floyd, a black man, died in handcuffs on May 25 while a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck even after he pleaded for air and stopped moving.

His death has struck a chord with minorities protesting against discrimination elsewhere, including the deaths of indigenous Australians in custody.

In Sydney, there was one early scuffle when police removed a man who appeared to be a counter protester carrying a sign reading: “White Lives, Black Lives, All Lives Matter.”

Sydney protest
An Aboriginal man performs a smoking ceremony as protesters gather in Sydney (AP)

The rally appeared orderly as police handed out masks to protesters and other officials provided hand sanitiser.

In Brisbane, the Queensland state capital, organisers said about 30,000 people gathered, forcing police to shut down some major streets. The protesters demanded to have Australia’s Indigenous flag raised at the police station.

State environment minister Leeanne Enoch encouraged Queenslanders to speak out.

She said: “Whether you’re talking about the US or right here in Australia, black lives matter.

“Black lives matter today. Black lives matter every day.”

Indigenous Australians make up 2% of the the country’s adult population, but 27% of the prison population.

Protest in Berlin
A young woman wears a facemask at the Alexander Platz in Berlin (AP)

They are also the most disadvantaged ethnic minority in Australia and have higher-than-average rates of infant mortality and poor health, as well as shorter life expectancies and lower levels of education and employment than other Australians.

In South Korea’s capital, Seoul, protesters gathered for a second straight day to denounce Mr 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”.

In Tokyo, dozens of people gathered in a peaceful protest.

In Berlin, thousands of mostly young people, many dressed in black and wearing face masks, joined a Black Lives Matter demo in the Alexanderplatz, or Alexander Square, on Saturday.

Some held up placards with slogans such as “Be the change”, “I can’t breathe” and “Germany is not innocent”.

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