LONDON – Street protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis went global over the weekend, as demonstrators in London, Berlin and Toronto gathered under banners declaring that Black Lives Matter and called for an end to police brutality in the United States and around the world.
In London, hundreds defied rules against large gatherings Sunday to rally at Trafalgar Square and mass outside the new U.S. Embassy on the south bank of the River Thames, where they chanted “no justice, no peace” in solidarity with U.S. movement against racial bias in the criminal justice system.
Demonstrators there and in Berlin waved signs reading “I can’t breathe” – some of the last words that the dying Floyd, captured by an onlooker’s video, gasped out in Minneapolis as a police officer pressed his knee down on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
Four Minneapolis police officers have been fired over Floyd’s May 25 death. Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three are under criminal investigation.
London’s Metropolitan Police said they had made five arrests outside of the U.S. Embassy on Sunday – two for assault on a police officer and three for “breaches of COVID legislation.”
“LONDON: lockdown has not been lifted,” Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted on Sunday morning. “The virus is still out there.”
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Sunday called the video of Floyd’s death “very distressing,” but declined to criticize President Donald Trump for his tweets about the violent protests that have erupted in Minneapolis and cities across the United States.
Trump tweeted last week that “looting leads to shooting” and “THUGS” were “dishonoring the memory of George Floyd.”
Twitter affixed warning labels, alerting users that “this Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
“We want to see de-escalation of all of those tensions and Americans come together,” Raab told the BBC on Sunday.
Raab told Sky News he wanted to see America “come back together” and “not tear itself apart over this.”
In Berlin, demonstrators gathered Sunday for a second day to protest Floyd’s killing. Hundreds marched a mile through the city before gathering at Hermannplatz, a square in one of the German capital’s most diverse neighborhoods.
A total of around 1,500 people took part, according to police reports cited by German media. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” read one sign. “Being black is not a crime,” read another.
Police said around 2,200 people gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Berlin on Saturday in a demonstration that ended peacefully.
Berlin loosened its limits on demonstrations over the weekend, but protesters are still supposed to keep a safe distance to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In the city’s north, a new mural appeared on one of the remaining strips of the Berlin Wall, an international symbol of tyranny, division and oppression.
It showed Floyd’s face. “I can’t breathe,” it read.
In Canada, several thousand people rallied in Toronto on Saturday to denounce racism and demand answers in the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, 29, who fell from a balcony apartment while police were in her home Wednesday.
In the Toronto protests, people chanted “not another black life” as they marched in face masks to control the spread of the virus, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News.
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Morris reported from Berlin.