From Budapest to Birmingham, England, tens of thousands of Europeans took to the streets this past weekend in solidarity with Americans, calling for racial justice and an end to the abuse of power by police forces in the wake of the killing of George Floyd two weeks ago. They did so despite, in places, stormy weather—and in defiance, nearly everywhere, of strict social-distancing rules.
In Paris, Copenhagen, Barcelona, and Lausanne, Switzerland, demonstrators packed narrow city streets, major public squares and iconic parks to raise their voices against racial violence and police brutality. In cities such as London and Naples, Italy, the protesters assembled outside the U.S. embassy or consulate buildings to chant George Floyd’s name and demand justice. They carried signs, in English and in the local language, denouncing racism and showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Under sunny skies in Rome, a young crowd filled Piazza del Popolo, reminding others that racism is not an American problem, but a global scourge. In Brussels, protesters also used the occasion to call attention to local cases, such as that of Moïse “Lamine” Bangoura, who died in police custody in 2018.
The May 25 killing of George Floyd is forcing many in Europe to confront the continent’s troubled past with race relations. In Belgium, a former colonial power, a petition is circulating calling on the country to take down all statues of former King Leopold II. Leopold, who ruled from 1865 to 1909, is blamed for the genocide that killed millions in the former Belgian Congo colony in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the English city of Bristol, anti-racism protesters toppled the statue of former slave trader Edward Colston and threw the bronze likeness into the River Avon.
A popular joke on Twitter reads, “Protesters say statue tripped, and fell into the water.” But by Monday, it had become clear the statue incident wasn’t being treated as a joke. Police said they had opened up an investigation into the incident. Meanwhile, members of the U.K. government, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, called it an act of “thuggery.” Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted, “justice will follow.”
There’s no sign the global demonstrations will go quiet any time soon. Perth, in Western Australia, is among the cities planning further street protests this weekend.
Scroll below to explore the global protests through photographs.
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