Spain, Italy join wave of anti-racism rallies
Madrid,(AFP/APP):Chanting for justice, thousands of protesters rallied in the streets of Spain and Italy on Sunday joining a wave of global demonstrations sparked by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of US police.
A video of the incident with Floyd pleading for his life in Minneapolis as a white police officer knelt on his neck has prompted angry rallies from London to New York, even as countries continue to discourage large gatherings to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
Several thousand people massed on Sunday outside the US embassy in Madrid, repeating "I cannot breathe", Floyd's last words as he was asphyxiated by the officer, and demanding racial justice.
"Racism knows no borders," said Leinisa Seemdo, a 26-year-old Spanish translator from Cape Verde. "In all the countries where I have lived, I have experienced discrimination because of the colour of my skin."
At a police cordon, they knelt in silence in a gesture against racism first made by American football player Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
Rome's Piazza del Popolo ("People's Plaza") also fell silent for eight minutes -- around the time Floyd was pinned down by the white police -- with thousands of people taking a knee in memory of Floyd, their fists in the air.
"We can't breathe," shouted the crowd, after the collective silence.
"It's really hard to live here," said Senegalese migrant Morikeba Samate, 32, one of the thousands to have arrived in Italy after risking the perilous crossing across the Mediterranean.
"There are so many people our age in the street," said one young Italian, 17-year-old Eleonora, who showed up with her friend holding signs. "It's important to be here."
Floyd's death last month has unleashed the most serious civil unrest in America since Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968.
Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied this week across the country from New York and Washington to San Francisco.
The white officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder and his three fellow officers were also arrested.
- 'No Justice, No Peace' -
More than 1,000 people -- most wearing masks -- also gathered on Sunday at a Black Lives Matter demonstration near the US embassy in Budapest.
Demonstrators held up banners reading "Police everywhere - justice nowhere" and "No Justice - No Peace" and kneeled for eight minutes as other protesters around the world have done.
"We have come together to stand up against racism," Hungarian reggae singer G Ras told cheering protesters. "If we want to live in a better world, we need to radically change the way we live."
In Spain, rallies were planned in 10 cities, from Pamplona in the Basque Country to the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.
In Barcelona, in the north of the country, hundreds of demonstrators filled Sant Jaume square in front of the regional government headquarters.