Protests sparked by the George Floyd demonstrations in the U.S. have taken root on three continents as people from Paris to Seoul demand justice for Floyd, police reforms and an end to racism in America as well as their own homelands.
What started as rallies in scattered states across the United States has developed into a global movement. Saturday saw tens of thousands in cities across Asia, Europe and Australia, gathering and protesting peacefully with now-familiar chants of “I Can’t Breathe,” “No Justice, No Peace, (****) the police” and “Black Lives Matter.”
The protesters also chanted the name of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis who was allegedly killed by police after an officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Video footage of the entire incident became the spark for the current movement.
The video struck a chord in black communities across the globe, driving protesters into the streets in Berlin, Paris, London and other cities in Europe.
“I was born French, on the day when we celebrate our country. But on a daily basis, I don’t feel that this country accepts me,” said Marie Djedje, a 14-year-old Parisian. “I know I’m going to have to fight twice as hard as the others. But I’m prepared.”
Paris attempted to discourage the protests due to concerns over the coronavirus, but the demonstrations continued, as locals likened their own plights to Floyd's. Jessica Corandi, a 37-year-old Paris Metro driver, cried when she saw the video of Floyd.
Chris Trabot, who works for Paris City Hall, described how Floyd’s death pushed him to finally protest for the first time in his life. He was born in Martinique, a French territory, and he described to The Associated Press how he faced racism for the color of his skin when his family moved to the mainland – treatment he sees echoed with his daughter, who has been targeted by classmates who mock her hair.
Munich police reported 20,000 people had gathered for protests, while thousands more participated in Frankfurt and Cologne. The UK has seen tens of thousands take to Green Park, Parliament Square and the streets along the River Thames in London, while 15,000 more took to the streets of Manchester, England, and 2,000 in Cardiff, Wales.
The protests have struck a particular chord in Australia, which has a small indigenous population of around 3 percent First Peoples who make up around 27 percent of the prison population, according to the Independent Australia.
The First Peoples also suffer higher-than-average rates of infant mortality and poor health, with lower life expectancies. Protesters in Brisbane demanded the Indigenous flag raised over the police station.
In Seoul protesters gathered while wearing masks and black shirts and carrying signs with “George Floyd Rest in Peace” and “Koreans for Black Lives Matter.”
“I urge the U.S. government to stop the violent suppression of (U.S.) protesters and listen to their voices,” said Jihoon Shim, one of the rally’s organizers. “I also want to urge the South Korean government to show its support for their fight (against racism).”
While many are concerned about the coronavirus pandemic spiking due to the protests, some, such as Andrew Francis, a black man from London, see the current fight for racial equality is “more important.”
“We want change for our children and our children’s children’s to be able to have equality within the U.K, the U.S., all around the world.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.