Wed | Jul 8, 2020

World alarmed by violence in US

Published:Monday | June 1, 2020 | 12:26 AM
People gather in Trafalgar Square in central London on Sunday to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis that has led to protests across the US.
People gather in Trafalgar Square in central London on Sunday to protest against the recent killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis that has led to protests across the US.


Nations around the world have watched in horror at the six days of civil unrest in the United States following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing.

Racism-tinged events no longer startle even America’s closest allies, though many have watched coverage of the often-violent protests with growing unease. Burning cars and riot police in the US featured on newspaper front pages around the globe Sunday – bumping news of the COVID-19 pandemic to second-tier status in some places.

Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minneapolis was the latest in a series of deaths of black men and women at the hands of police in the US.

Thousands gathered in central London on Sunday to offer support for American demonstrators. Chanting “No justice! No peace!” and waving placards with the words “How many more?” at Trafalgar Square, the protesters ignored UK government rules banning crowds because of the pandemic. Police didn’t stop them.

Demonstrators then marched to the US Embassy, where a long line of officers surrounded the building. Several hundred milled around in the street and waved placards.

Protesters in Denmark also converged on the US Embassy on Sunday. Participants carried placards with messages such as ‘Stop Killing Black People’.

The US Embassy in Berlin was the scene of protests on Saturday under the motto: ‘Justice for George Floyd’. Several hundred more people took to the streets Sunday in the capital’s Kreuzberg area, carrying signs with slogans like ‘Silence is Violence’, ‘Hold Cops Accountable’, and ‘Who Do You Call When Police Murder?’ No incidents were reported.

Germany’s top-selling Bild newspaper on Sunday carried the sensational headline ‘This killer-cop set America ablaze’ with an arrow pointing to a photo of now-fired police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with third-degree murder in Floyd’s death, with his knee on Floyd’s neck. The newspaper’s story reported “scenes like out of a civil war”.

In Italy, the Corriere della Sera newspaper’s senior US correspondent, Massimo Gaggi, wrote that the reaction to Floyd’s killing was “different” than previous cases of black Americans killed by police and the ensuing violence.

“There are exasperated black movements that no longer preach non-violent resistance,” Gaggi wrote, noting the Minnesota governor’s warning that “anarchist and white supremacy groups are trying to fuel the chaos’’.

In countries with authoritarian governments, state-controlled media have been highlighting the chaos and violence of the US demonstrations, in part to undermine American officials’ criticism of their own nations.


In China, the protests are being viewed through the prism of US government criticism of China’s crackdown on anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-owned Global Times newspaper, tweeted that US officials can now see protests out their own windows: “I want to ask Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Pompeo: Should Beijing support protests in the US, like you glorified rioters in Hong Kong?”

Hua Chunying, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, pointed out America’s racial unrest by tweeting “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd said before his death.

In Iran, which has violently put down nationwide demonstrations by killing hundreds, arresting thousands and disrupting Internet access to the outside world, state television has repeatedly aired images of the US unrest. One TV anchor discussed “a horrible scene from New York, where police attacked protesters”. Another state TV message accused US police agencies in Washington of “setting fire to cars and attacking protesters”, without offering any evidence.

Russia accused the United States of “systemic problems in the human rights sphere’.’ It denounced Floyd’s death as the latest in a series of police violence against African Americans.