From Sydney to London, Paris to Washington, D.C., protesters have launched a global weekend of action to support Black Lives Matter, in many cases defying bans on public gatherings.
Taking a knee, chanting and ignoring social-distancing measures, outraged protesters kicked off a weekend of global rallies Saturday against racism and police brutality.
The death during the arrest of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in the US state of Minnesota, has brought tens of thousands out onto the streets during a pandemic that is ebbing in Asia and Europe, but spreading in other parts of the world.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock spoke for many concerned officials as he tried to convince Britons not to gather for events involving more than six people this weekend, no matter the cause or their rage.
“Like so many people, I am appalled by the death of George Floyd. I understand why people are deeply upset,” Hancock said on Friday.
“But we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat.”
Londoners nevertheless rallied outside parliament on Saturday and plan to hold another large demonstration in front of the US embassy on the opposite bank of the river Thames on Sunday.
‘This is the scene, right now, in central London.
‘Despite the rain, thousands are standing in solidarity with the family of George Floyd’⁰⁰#BlackLivesMatter protests are taking place throughout the UK today
— ITV News Politics (@ITVNewsPolitics) June 6, 2020
Dressed in black
Aboriginal protesters performed a traditional smoking ceremony at the start of a “Black Lives Matter” protest in Sydney, which was sanctioned at the last minute after initially being banned on health grounds.
Tens of thousands of Australians defied government orders to stay home regardless, holding up signs and wearing face masks marked up “I can’t breathe” – the words Floyd kept repeating while handcuffed as a policeman knelt on his neck.
“The fact that they have tried to push us all back and stop the protest, it makes people want to do it even more,” said Jumikah Donovan, one of thousands who turned up thinking the Sydney ban was still in place.
Thousands gathered today at Town Hall Sydney for the deaths of Aboriginal people in custody in the wake of US protests against the murder of George Floyd. 432 deaths in custody since 1991 in Australia. International resistance begets an awakening in Australia #BLMprotest pic.twitter.com/V5B8s6veiv
— Alison Francis (@AlisonllFrancis) June 6, 2020
Thousands more dressed in black to mourn Floyd’s death protested in Melbourne and other Australian cities.
Floyd’s death came during the spread of a disease that has disproportionately affected black people and ethnic minorities in global centres such as London and New York.
It also came in the throes of a historic economic downturn that has statistically affected the poor and the marginalised the most.
This confluence, and accompanying outrage at US President Donald Trump’s partisan response, has refocused attention on the world’s racial divides like few other events since the 1960s.
The US embassy in London said it stood “united with the British public in grief”.
“We welcome this exercise of free speech, which contributes to constructive dialogue, education and change,” the embassy said of the London protests, adopting a more conciliatory tone than the one taken by Trump.
“There remains much work to be done.”
Thousands defy bans
Memorial events and peaceful tributes were to stretch in Europe from Warsaw to Lisbon on Saturday, before shifting to major US cities and Canada’s Montreal.
In Paris, police banned a rally scheduled outside the US embassy compound and a second one on the Champs de Mars park facing the Eiffel Tower.
The Parisian authorities said the events denouncing police brutality were organised via social networks without official notice or consultation.
But on Tuesday, another banned rally in Paris drew more than 20,000 people in support of the family of Adama Traoré, a young black man who died in police custody in 2016.
Massive turnout in Paris at protest outside city’s main courthouse to support Adama Traoré https://t.co/ORYaVjV8cr
— Cole Stangler (@ColeStangler) June 2, 2020
There were also events scheduled Saturday across other parts of Britain, in Amsterdam and for the second week running in major US cities.
Tens of thousands were expected in Washington, D.C., where Mayor Muriel Bowser renamed the area near the White House as “Black Lives Matter Plaza”.
With tensions soaring, several US police departments have launched investigations into officers who were recorded hitting, pushing or baton-charging protesters and some reporters – including foreign ones.
The protests have even resonated in war-scarred countries such as Iraq, where the “American Revolts” and the Arabic phrase for “We want to breathe, too” hashtags are spreading on social media.
“I think what the Americans are doing is brave and they should be angry, but rioting is not the solution,” Yassin Alaa, a 20-year-old camped out in Iraq’s protest-hit Tahrir Square.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Rosh Hashanah services interrupted by death of the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court
The death of the first Jewish woman on the U.S. Supreme Court interrupted Rosh Hashanah services on Friday evening.
"On Friday, Jewish people around the country celebrating Rosh Hashanah were stunned to learn that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a prominent member of their own tribe, had died," the HuffPost reported. "People received alerts, Zoom messages and announcements from their rabbis about Ginsburg Friday night."
While many people were saddened by the passing of the iconic jurist, Twitter user Leora Horwitz noted a silver lining.
‘Big mistake’: Trump’s favorite pollster tells Fox News why Republicans shouldn’t push nomination before the election
Fox News on Friday examined why it would be a "big mistake" for Republicans to attempt to force through a nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
Following Ginsburg's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) vowed that Trump's nominee would receive a vote, but did not specify whether it would occur before the election or during the "lame duck" session of Congress that occurs before the 2020 election victors are sworn in.
But conservative pollster Scott Rasmussen warned Republicans it would be a bad idea during an appearance with Fox News personality Laura Ingraham.
LISTEN: Mourners sing ‘Amazing Grace’ outside the Supreme Court to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Heartwarming videos were shared on social media on Friday night showing the spontaneous gathering at the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The large crowd, with many people wearing masks, sang the hymn "Amazing Grace."
Here are some of the videos of the scene:
A moving moments as dozens join in to sing “Amazing Grace” on the steps of the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/NGZyZi4YR4
— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) September 19, 2020