LONDON — Thousands of anti-racism campaigners around the world staged demonstrations on Sunday, acting in solidarity with Americans protesting police violence after George Floyd, a Black man, died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes last week.
Demonstrators in London marched across the city after gathering in Trafalgar Square, where they kneeled en masse in honor of Floyd, before heading across the River Thames to protest near the U.S. embassy in the Battersea neighborhood.
Onlookers cheered and drivers honked horns from passing cars as the protesters chanted “say his name” and “Black lives matter.” At one point, four men climbed on top of a bus stop to lead the chants, before getting down on one knee in silence and encouraging the others to do the same.
One demonstrator said the protests were “very important because it is sending a clear message that we have had enough racial injustice in our country.”
Isabelle Orsini, 20, is originally from New York and now lives in the Kensington area of London. She told the Press Association news agency: “The U.S. obviously has a much deeper and darker history of black discrimination compared to the U.K. The reason people are so angry is because this is reopening wounds that go back hundreds of years. It is very important that we do whatever it takes to tell our government that racism will not be tolerated.”
Protesters also marched to Grenfell Tower in the northwest of the city, where a blaze in the high-rise apartment building killed 72 residents in 2017, most of whom were non-white.
Hundreds of people gathered for a similar demonstration in Manchester, in the north of England, and chanted “Black lives matter.”
Floyd’s death has also captured attention in Germany. On Sunday, the country’s top-selling Bild newspaper carried the headline “This killer-cop set America ablaze” and said that demonstrations in the U.S. looked like “scenes like out of a civil war.”
In Berlin, several hundred demonstrators staged a rally outside the U.S. Embassy, with posters bearing “Justice for George Floyd,” “Stop killing us” and “Who’s neckst.”
Sports stars across Europe also joined the protests. Soccer player Jadon Sancho, who plays for Borussia Dortmund in Germany, as well as England’s national team, revealed a “Justice for George Floyd” T-shirt after scoring his first goal since Germany’s top soccer league, the Bundesliga, started up again after being halted due to coronavirus concerns. The south London-born player received a yellow card for taking his jersey off on the field.
At a separate match, Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram took a knee after scoring in Sunday’s win against Union Berlin, echoing former NFL player Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality.
In a rare foray into U.S. domestic affairs, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians were watching the events in America “with shock and with horror,” HuffPost Canada reported.
“Anti-Black racism, racism is real. It’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada. And we know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias, and anti-Black racism every single day,” Trudeau said in a statement on Friday.
“I call on all Canadians, whether it’s anti-Black racism or anti-Asian racism or racism discrimination of any type, to stand together in solidarity,” he continued, “to be there for each other and know just how deeply people are being affected by what we see on the news these past few days.”
A peaceful protest in Montreal turned violent on Sunday night with clashes reported between police and some demonstrators. Police said that protesters threw projectiles at then and officers deployed pepper spray and tear gas. As violence escalated, police declared the demonstration illegal, the Canadian Press reported.
Meanwhile in Toronto, thousands of protesters took to the streets calling for the end of police brutality, and demanding answers in the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman who fell off her balcony in the presence of police.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, a Conservative, avoided responding to President Donald Trump’s incendiary reaction to the demonstrations that started in Minneapolis. Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he has “long kept to the self-imposed guidance not to comment on what President Trump says or indeed other world leaders, it is not really what my job is.”
In Denmark, around 2,000 people gathered peacefully to protest outside the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen on Sunday. The Local reports the crowd then marched toward Christiansborg Palace, holding up signs emblazoned with “Justice for George Floyd.”
Italy remains in a partial lockdown but protesters gathered outside the U.S. consulate in Milan on Thursday holding signs reading “I can’t breathe” and “stop killing black people.” Local media reported that the protesters simulated suffocation by gripping their hands around their necks.
In Mexico, people left flowers at a display commemorating Floyd on a security barrier outside the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City on Saturday. In a similar scene, people lit candles in front of the U.S. consulate in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday.
CORRECTION: The protest in Copenhagen took place on Sunday, not Saturday.
Dominique Mosbergen contributed to this article.