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Anti-racism protests

Black Lives Matter supporters march in France and across the world against police brutality

Demonstrators hold up signs at the "Black Lives Matter Plaza", near the White House, during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2020.
Demonstrators hold up signs at the "Black Lives Matter Plaza", near the White House, during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2020. REUTERS - JIM BOURG

Taking a knee and chanting, outraged protesters from Paris to Sydney poured out onto the streets on Saturday to call for justice in the killing of black American George Floyd, while denouncing racism in their own countries.

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Demonstrators marched in France, Britain, Germany, Australia and other nations in solidarity with US crowds, with turnout reaching in the tens of thousands in some cities.

They showed up despite coronavirus warnings, wearing face masks and holding signs reading "Black Lives Matter".

The killing on 25 May of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis by a white police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, has ignited a global wave of anger and revulsion at police brutality and the racist treatment of ethnic minorities.

France

In France, many people have drawn a parallel between Floyd's death and that of 24-year-old Adama Traoré who died in police custody four years ago.

Traoré's family has repeatedly claimed police officers tackled him to the ground and that he died due to suffocation.

Crowds turned out to demonstrate in Paris and other cities, including Bordeaux, Lyon, Lille, Rennes and Marseille, where some skirmishes were reported.

In the French capital, where some 5,500 protesters turned out despite a police ban, several hundred gathered on Place de la Concorde, close to the Embassy.

A demonstrator holds a placard reading 'there comes a time when silence is racism' in front of French Gendarmes on the place de la Concorde, in Paris on June 6, 2020, as part of a 'Black Lives Matter' global protest against racism and police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a white police officer.
A demonstrator holds a placard reading 'there comes a time when silence is racism' in front of French Gendarmes on the place de la Concorde, in Paris on June 6, 2020, as part of a 'Black Lives Matter' global protest against racism and police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a white police officer. AFP - ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT

In Bordeaux, a minute's silence was observed with many people bending on one knee in memory of Floyd and all other victims of police violence.

"I've had to put up with racist comments all my life," 46-year-old Nadine told French news agency, AFP.

"Being black in France is not easy."

Although globally peaceful, protests in the north of the country in Metz saw a public prosecutor hit on the nose by a stone and four police officers were also slightly injured. Thirteen people have been arrested. 

The interior ministry said that an estimated 23,300 people demonstrated on Saturday, with the average age of the crowds at 25.

US

Tens of thousands of people took to streets and parks in American cities on Saturday, for a 12th consecutive day of protests.

Washington was at the epicenter, with huge crowds flooding downtown streets surrounding the White House, which was barricaded with black metal fencing.

"I'm here so my son is not the next hashtag that is circulating worldwide," said Washington native Christine Montgomery, indicating her 10-year-old child standing next to her.

Not far away at the Lincoln Memorial where civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr famously delivered his "I have a dream" speech in 1963, a throng of protesters gathered under the watchful eye of National Guard troops.

"Martin Luther King stood here, and after so many years we are back here with a new message of hope," said Deniece Laurent-Mantey, 31.

America is facing the most serious civil unrest since King was assassinated in 1968. Floyd's killing was the latest in a long list of unarmed black people killed by white law enforcement officers.

UK

Protesters defied a police ban across the UK, which saw one protest turn violent in the British capital London. Fourteen police officers were injured and 14 more were arrested when some protesters started throwing bottles at police near Downing street, the prime minister's residence.

Police brought out riot gear and mounted police charged at demonstrators to clear them from the area.

Protests however were largely peaceful, with many shouting anti-racist slogans in tribute to Floyd and denouncing institutional racism.

Germany

In Berlin, demonstrators filled the central Alexanderplatz square, with police estimating the number at 15,000 people.

As in other German cities such as Cologne and Dusseldorf, protesters held up signs with slogans such as "No justice, no peace".

In sport, Bayern Munich footballers warmed up before their Bundesliga match against Leverkusen on Saturday wearing T-shirts with the slogan "Red card against Racism -- Black Lives Matter". Defender Jerome Boateng had called on his teammates to express their solidarity.

Australia

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

State Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch encouraged Australians to let their voices be heard.

FILE PHOTO: A woman wears a face mask as people protest in solidarity with those in the United States protesting police brutality and the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Sydney, Australia, June 2, 2020.
FILE PHOTO: A woman wears a face mask as people protest in solidarity with those in the United States protesting police brutality and the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Sydney, Australia, June 2, 2020. REUTERS - Loren Elliott

“Whether you’re talking about the U.S. or right here in Australia, black lives matter,” she said. “Black lives matter today. Black lives matter every day.”

In Brisbane, local demonstrations drew up to 30,000 people, who came out insisting Australia’s indigenous community too matter.

Asia

In Tokyo, marchers protested also in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“I want to show that there’s racism in Japan now,” said 17-year-old high school student Wakaba, who declined to give her family name. 

In Seoul, dozens of South Korean activists gathered, some wearing black masks with “Can’t breathe” in Korean, echoing George Floyd’s final words as he lay on the ground.

All four officers involved in Floyd's death will face charges. Derek Chauvin, the officer who held his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly 9 minutes is accused of second-degree murder after charges against him were upgraded.

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