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US protests: Thousands march in Washington, drawing support worldwide

This article is more than 12 months old

Thousands in Europe also take to the streets in solidarity with American protesters

WASHINGTON: US protests sparked by Mr George Floyd's fatal encounter last month with Minneapolis police crossed a new threshold as weekend rallies demanding racial justice stretched from Washington, DC, to an east Texas town once a haven for the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

They also inspired anti-racism protests around the globe, from Brisbane to London and Paris, while people in Spain, Italy and elsewhere embraced the Black Lives Matter message.

In Washington, tens of thousands of people chanting "I can't breathe" and "Hands up, don't shoot" rallied at the Lincoln Memorial and marched to the White House on Saturday in the biggest protest yet during 12 days of demonstrations across the US since Floyd died.

A common message of the day was a determination to transform outrage generated by Mr Floyd's death into a broader movement seeking far-reaching reforms in the US criminal justice system.

"It feels like I get to be a part of history and a part of people who are trying to change the world for everyone," said Ms Jamilah Muahyman, a Washington resident protesting near the White House.

The gatherings in Washington and dozens of other US cities and towns were also notable for a lower level of tension.

It was the most peaceful day of protests since video footage emerged on May 25 showing Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man in handcuffs, lying face down on a Minneapolis street as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

The intensity of protests over the past week began to ebb on Wednesday after prosecutors in Minneapolis had arrested all four police officers implicated in Mr Floyd's death.

Derek Chauvin, the white officer seen pinning Floyd's neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes as Mr Floyd repeatedly groaned "I can't breathe", was charged with second-degree murder.

EUROPE AND ASIA

People also took to the streets in European and Asian cities on Saturday.

After a largely peaceful protest in London that drew thousands, a few demonstrators near British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's residence threw bottles at police. Mounted officers charged at protesters to push them back.

Earlier, more than a thousand protesters had marched past the US Embassy, blocking traffic and holding placards.

Many thousands had also crowded into the square outside Parliament, holding placards reading "Black Lives Matter", ignoring government advice to avoid large gatherings due to the risk from the coronavirus.

Police in the German city of Hamburg used pepper spray on protesters and said they were ready to deploy water cannons. One officer was injured.

In Spain, several thousand people massed yesterday outside the US embassy in Madrid, repeating "I cannot breathe".

Rome's Piazza del Popolo fell silent for eight minutes with thousands of people taking a knee in memory of Mr Floyd.

In Brisbane, one of several Australian cities where rallies were held, police estimated 10,000 people joined a peaceful protest, wearing masks and holding "Black Lives Matter" placards.

In Tokyo, marchers protested against what they said was mistreatment of a Kurdish man by Japanese police. Organisers said they were also supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

In Seoul, dozens of South Korean activists and foreign residents gathered for a demonstration. - REUTERS

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