Black Lives Matter - The Moment to Change the World Is Right Now

By Updated at 2020-06-09 00:56:29 +0000

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LONDON (AP) — Just like coronavirus, racism pays no attention to borders.

Across the world, people representing a broad spectrum of society have marched as one to protest racial injustice and police brutality at home and abroad.

Despite the risks posed by possibly the biggest public health hazard in a century, they still put their marching boots on and geared up for a long day of chanting.

They sought not just to show solidarity with protesters across the United States following the shocking police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis but also to shine a spotlight on the inequalities that scar their own nations. On May 25, Floyd, a black man, died handcuffed on the ground saying “I can’t breathe” as a white policeman pushed his knee to his neck.

In Australia, tens of thousands highlighted the country’s long mistreatment of Aboriginal people, notably of David Dungay, who died in a prison hospital in 2015 while being restrained by five guards.

“Same story, different soil,” read one banner. 

In Britain, the world’s melting pot due to its imperial past, many demonstrators clearly saw parallels between what happened with Floyd and their experiences with British police and authorities. In the 1600s and 1700s, several British port cities grew wealthy transporting slaves to the Americas. On Sunday in Bristol, southwest England, protesters tore down a statute of a slave trader whose company used to brand its victims with the company’s initials on their chests. 

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Protestors gather at Town Hall in Sydney, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to support the cause of U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

In the last decade, the British government has been called out for its appalling treatment of British Caribbean citizens who came north to rebuild the country after World War II. In the last few months, despite having a National Health Service that is free for all, people from minority groups in Britain face a higher risk of dying from coronavirus than their white counterparts.
“There’s a lot of frustration due to racial discrimination. And we want change for our children and our children’s children, to be able to have equality within the U.K, the U.S., all around the world,” said Andrew Francis, a 37-year-old black man from London.

Across France, people defied police protest bans due to coronavirus concerns to express the depth of their convictions.

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Hundreds of demonstrators gather on the Champs de Mars as the Eiffel Tower is seen in the background during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, U.S.A., after being restrained by police officers on May 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Among the crowds Saturday in Paris was Marie Djedje, 14, whose birthday is July 14, the day France commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789 and the beginning of the French Revolution. 

One of the revolution’s rallying cries was “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” — freedom, equality, fraternity. But the French motto now inscribed on town halls and schools across the land rings hollow to people of color who feel like they’re treated as second-class citizens in France.

“I was born French, on the day when we celebrate our country. But on a daily basis, I don’t feel that this country accepts me,” Marie said, holding up a sign that read “Being black is not a crime.”

The personal stories behind those attending protests around the world are varied and nuanced but the message is the same.

“It’s quite unfortunate, you know, in this current 21st century that people of color are being treated as if they are lepers,” Abdul Nassir, a 26-year-old Ghanaian studying in Rome, said during Sunday’s demonstration in the Italian capital.

The protesters share the same hope: that amid this pandemic — as the world’s social and economic structures are being turned upside down — leaders, governments and all facets of society can find the will to reorder the world in a more just and equal manner. 

There should be no borders in that aspiration.

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An Aboriginal man performs a smoking ceremony as protesters gather in Sydney, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to support the movement of U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

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People gather to protest during a solidarity rally for the death of George Floyd Saturday, June 6, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

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A mural by street artist Jorit, honoring George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis, USA, depicts from left, Lenin, Martin Luther King, George Floyd, Malcom X and Angela Davis, atop the roof of a building in Naples, southern Italy, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (Alessandro Pone/LaPresse via AP)

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People gather during a demonstration in Frankfurt, Germany, Saturday, June 6, 2020 calling for justice for George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (Boris Roessler/dpa via AP)

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A girl wears a face mask during a Black Lives Matter rally in Parliament Square, in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as they protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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A demonstrator clenches his fist during a Black Lives Matter rally in Parliament Square in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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People pose next to an artwork by French artist Dugudus depicting U.S. President Donald Trump as a police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd while holding a bible, in Paris, France, Saturday, June 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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A woman gestures after climbing on the Abraham Lincon statue in Parliament Square during a Black Lives Matter rally in Parliament Square in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

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A young woman wears a facemark as people gather at the Alexander Platz in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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People demonstrate in Lyon, central France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

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A man raises his fist as people gather in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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Thousands of people demonstrate in Cologne, Germany, Saturday June 6, 2020, to protest against racism and the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

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Protesters hold placards as they attend a demonstration organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, in Gothenburg, Sweden, Sunday, June 7, 2020. in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (Adam Ihse/TT News Agency via AP)

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Demonstrators throw objects at charging mounted police at Downing Street during a Black Lives Matter march in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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Demonstrators kneel facing police officers after scuffles during a Black Lives Matter march in London, Saturday, June 6, 2020, as people protest against the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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A woman takes a picture during a demonstration in Paris, France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, when protesting against the recent killing of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, U.S.A., after being restrained by police officers on May 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

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A protester holds a sign that reads "kill, it is being filmed" in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest against the death of George Floyd, who died after he was restrained by police officers May 25 in Minneapolis, that has led to global protests. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

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Anti-racism demonstrators take a knee near Toronto Police Headquarters during a march on Saturday, June 6, 2020, protesting the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

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People gather in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, June 7, 2020, during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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People gather calling for justice for George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis, USA, in Rome's People's Square, Sunday, June 7, 2020. (Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse via AP)

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A Protester holds a white rose as he stands among placards during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in Brussels, Sunday, June 7, 2020. The demonstration was held in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

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A protester stands in front of the US embassy during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in London, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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A protester holds a placard in front of the US embassy, during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in London, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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A protester holds a placard at the window of Foreign and Commonwealth Office building during the Black Lives Matter protest rally in London, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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Protesters throw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour, during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in Bristol, England, Sunday June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

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Protesters call to calm down rioters during clashes between police and small groups of rioters after a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Brussels, Sunday, June 7, 2020. Just like the coronavirus, racism has no borders. Across the world, disgruntled people, representing a broad spectrum of society, marched this weekend as one to protest against racial injustices at home and abroad. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

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Police clash with protesters during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Westminster, London, Sunday, June 7, 2020, in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, USA, that has led to protests in many countries and across the US. (Aaron Chown/PA via AP)

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John Leicester in Paris and Frances D’Emilio in Rome contributed to this report.

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