“I can’t breathe”: braving the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of indignant protesters began to assemble around the world on Saturday to denounce the racial inequalities and police brutality that led to the death of George Floyd.
From Sydney to London, via Paris or Montreal, multiple rallies are planned during the weekend in tribute to this African-American asphyxiated by a white policeman at the end of May in Minneapolis.
His death sparked a historic protest that spilled over the borders of his country and rekindled aspirations for real change.
In Australia, the first to open the ball of global indignation, tens of thousands of people demonstrated Saturday across the country, holding up banners “I can no longer breathe”, in reference to the complaint made by George Floyd, including his neck was blocked for almost nine minutes by the knee of the police officer who arrested him for a minor crime.
Australian organizers, unabashed by the government’s call to stay at home because of the health crisis, said the case had many echoes in their country.
They explained that they also wanted to denounce the very high rate of imprisonment among the Aborigines, and the deaths – more than 400 over the past thirty years – of members of this community while they were detained by the police.
In Sydney, the parade was allowed a few minutes before it started, with a court ruling reversing a previous ban.
“The fact that they tried to stop us from scrolling makes people want to do it even more,” said Jumikah Donovan, among the crowd.
Many of the protesters wore protective masks and tried to respect social barriers as best they could.
“Do not participate”
In the UK, where a mid-day rally is scheduled to take place outside Parliament in London and then across from the US Embassy on Sunday, the government has asked the British to stop demonstrating.
“I understand why people are deeply upset but we are still facing a health crisis and the coronavirus remains a real threat,” argued Health Minister Matt Hancock on Friday. “So please, for the safety of your loved ones, do not participate in large rallies, including protests, of more than six people”, limit set for gatherings outside during confinement.
In the British capital, several rallies have been organized for a week, sometimes marked by incidents with the police. They have rekindled the anger of people of color at “camouflaged racism” and the police “abuse” they claim is rampant in their country.
Also in France, the subject of recurrent controversy in recent years, accusations of police violence coupled with those of racism have rebounded in the wake of worldwide indignation aroused by the death of George Floyd.
In Paris, two calls to demonstrate against police violence on Saturday to “amplify the international solidarity movement against the impunity of the police” were banned due to the health crisis.
A rally is scheduled from 3:00 p.m. local in front of the American Embassy, located in the heart of the French capital and in the Elysée Palace district; the other from 5 p.m. local on the Champ de Mars esplanade.
These calls to demonstrate “were launched on social networks […] without any prior declaration to the police headquarters, “said the prefect of Paris in a statement, recalling that the state of health emergency currently prevailing in France prohibits any gathering of more than ten people in public space.
Tuesday, a prohibited demonstration had however gathered in Paris at least 20,000 people at the call of the family support committee of Adama Traoré, a young black man who died in 2016 in the Paris region after an arrest by gendarmes.
Calls for assembly were also launched for Saturday in other cities of France.
Epicenter of anger, fueled by new examples of police brutality, the United States also expects massive rallies on Saturday, a day that will also be marked by a new ceremony in memory of George Floyd.
With AFP offices.