In the UK capital, largely peaceful protests erupted on Sunday night as activists and police clashed near Downing Street. Officers were seen pushing and using batons, with some even punching and grabbing protesters as they approached police.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson later claimed that “the demonstrations were destroyed by a thief” and said he would hold those responsible accountable.
Some blocked coronavirus blockades and warnings from politicians to do so. Many protesters wore masks during weekend rallies, while some reported that racial inequality was also a public health crisis.
But they also turned out to be paying attention to racial injustice in their own nations.
Statues from the colonial era torn by ropes
Thousands gathered in front of the US embassy in London on Sunday, although British ministers said public protests risked increasing the spread of Covid-19.
The chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Life” bounced off the building in the Vauxhall area of the city, with a cheerful atmosphere for most of the day.
“Together we will let our voices be heard. It is enough. Blacks cannot continue to suffer,” one protester told the crowd.
Activists sometimes chanted “Britain is not innocent.” Others had messages about the American president, with a sign saying, “Black lives are trumping your ego, Mr. President.”
The day before, activists descended on Parliament Square in the city center. The protests were quiet for several hours, but heated up in the evening when police and the crowd confronted Downing Street.
In one incident, a video posted online showed a police horse suddenly crashing, causing its officer to crash into a streetlight and fall to the ground. The loose horse then panicked as it passed through groups of protesters before returning to the police stables.
“I stand with you. The brutal assassination of George Floyd must lead to immediate and lasting change everywhere,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement to protesters on Sunday, condemning the minority, which has turned violent, and reminding activists to try to limit physical interactions.
A number of Boris Johnson government ministers had previously called on protesters to avoid gathering at all for public health reasons, with Interior Minister Priti Patel saying on Saturday: “I would say to those who want to protest, please don’t.” “
Similar protests took place in Edinburgh, Scotland – and a dramatic scene unfolded in Bristol, south-west England, where activists tore down a statue of 17th-century slave owner Edward Colston.
The monument has stood in the city center since 1895, but is becoming increasingly controversial, with petitions being created demanding its removal. On Sunday, he was torn by ropes to strong toasts from a crowd of protesters.
European streets filled up after months of blockades
The protesters’ messages were echoed by thousands of people around the world.
In Spain, protesters were allowed to gather outside the US embassy, but after government orders were rejected, protesters marched through the city to the Puerta del Sol, one of the city’s most famous and busy places.
Demonstrators were spotted holding placards and chanting phrases, including “Donald Trump is a criminal.”
According to data released by the government delegation in Madrid, about 2,000 protesters were present; organizers say 4,000 people attended.
Lisa Okpala, a spokeswoman for CNAAEB, an anti-racism platform in Spain, told CNN that the purpose of the demonstration was to show support for the Black Blacks Matter movement in the United States and to “condemn and demonstrate against structural and institutional racism.” “in the country.
“We not only felt sad because, as I said, racism is a problem here, but we also felt the rage that people in the United States are experiencing now, especially the black community. So, there is a fabric between sadness and rage,” Okpala said.
Thousands more gathered in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, the main square that had sat empty only a few weeks ago, defining the devastating outbreak of a coronavirus in Italy.
Activists there raised a knee in silence for eight minutes in symbolic homage to Floyd, who died after police officer Derek Chauvin pressed a knee to his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Representatives of Italy’s immigrant community and American immigrants addressed the protesters during the demonstration; the names of all those killed in the United States as a result of police brutality were listed and remembered by the crowd.
While the large assembly made it difficult for protesters to adhere to government guidelines for social distancing, those demonstrating in the square were seen trying to keep a one-meter gap between them, with many also wearing masks and face shields.
In Warsaw, meanwhile, the streets were lined outside the US embassy. The day before, crowds had crept through Paris and other French cities such as Lille, Marseille and Nice.
The court allowed the protests in Sydney to continue
Hours earlier, cities in Australia were also active.
The country’s court overturned an order banning a march and rally in Sydney on Saturday, allowing thousands to gather in the city.
Aboriginal protests took place, and protesters held banners calling for an end to deaths in police detention centers in both the United States and Australia.
New South Wales government officials tried to ban the protest due to fears of social distancing and received an order Friday night. The New South Wales Court of Appeal overturned it in time for the action to take place.
Another rally was held in Brisbane and Melbourne.
In Hong Kong, smaller crowds gathered in front of the US Consulate General. And in Seoul, South Korea, masked activists put up signs Saturday to commemorate Floyd’s death.
Laura Perez Maestro of CNN, Al Goodman, Duarte Mendonca, Ben Wedman and Alessandro Gentile contributed with reports.