Anti-Racism Protests: George Floyd Killing Reverberates Across Europe

Written by | Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Outcry over the killing of George Floyd in the US city of Minneapolis has gone international, with people taking to the streets of the German and UK capitals to show their support for protest rallies across the United States. Thousands of people took to the streets of the Berlin and London on Sunday (31 May) to denounce the killing of a black man by a white police officer. The death of George Floyd sparked international outrage after a video circulated of him gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck. In Germany, several hundred protesters staged a rally outside the US Embassy in Berlin, while the country’s soccer stars wore T-shirts and knelt in support. During a soccer match, one player dropped his knee to the ground and bowed his head, waiting several seconds before getting up again – “He made a sign against racism, one we all completely support of course. I believe that everyone fully supports it, that everyone has the same thoughts he does,” Monchengladbach coach Marco Rose said.
Also in the UK capital, thousands of people turned out in solidarity with US demonstrators, carrying signs reading: “No justice, no peace.” The protesters knelt in Trafalgar Square before marching past the Houses of Parliament and stopping outside the US Embassy in London. The Metropolitan police said they arrested five people outside the embassy – some for violating coronavirus lockdown guidelines and others for assault on police. Underlying these protests across the US and in some EU capitals is frustration and desperation that black people feel when faced with institutional and structural anti-black racism that is pervasive in the Western world. Whether in the US or Europe, there is no significant difference in how either society perceives of what it means to be black, whereby these perceptions are largely dominated particularly by slavery and colonialism.
Some Europeans may be tempted to look at various incidents involving the blacks in the US as something that doesn’t happen in the ‚Old Continent‘, but black Europeans do not have that luxury. Major protests and riots took place across France in 2005 and in London in 2011, in both cases after black people were either killed by the police or died by accident during a police hunt. The blacks are confronted with racism in their everyday lives in Europe, though violence at the hands of police may not often come up in the news and public discourse. This is perhaps also why George Floyd’s killing has opened old wounds and triggered protests in parts of Europe. Unfortunately, the narratives in the mainstream and social media as well as school curriculums have done very little to transform European citizens‘ racial prejudice.

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