george floyd protests

George Floyd’s Death Moves the World to Protest Against Racism and Police Brutality

From London to Tokyo, people took to the streets to call for justice.
June 1, 2020, 10:33am
Demonstrators carry placards with slogans as they march in the road outside the U.S. Embassy in London on May 31, 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd. Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP. 

This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.

George Floyd’s death may have happened in the United States but the anti-racism and police brutality movement it sparked has echoed around the world.

Floyd died in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for close to nine minutes, ignoring his pleas saying that he "can’t breathe." He was held down for almost three minutes after becoming unresponsive.

Following protests across over 100 cities in the U.S., people in places like London, Toronto, and Berlin have also taken to the streets to call for justice.


Thousands of people in the United Kingdom’s capital gathered and chanted “Black Lives Matter” on May 31. Protestors marched along the River Thames to the U.S. Embassy, while hundreds took a knee at Trafalgar Square for nine minutes, to symbolise the amount of time Chauvin pinned Floyd down to the ground.


Citizens of Berlin also gathered to protest in front of the U.S. Embassy over the weekend. Apart from the streets, four football players from Germany’s Bundesliga league also paid tribute to Floyd during the games. One player took a knee on the field, another placed Floyd's name on his jersey sleeve, while two others wore shirts underneath their jerseys which read “Justice for George Floyd.”


In Toronto, people gathered on Saturday to protest against racial discrimination towards Black people as well as the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black woman who lived in the city and fell off her 24th floor balcony on May 27. According to police reports, Korchinski-Paquet was in a state of distress during the incident. Her mother called the police for help and she fell while the cops were in her home, leading her family and the public to believe that the police was involved in the fall.


On Thursday, Italian protestors gathered outside the U.S. consulate to protest against Floyd's death, where some performed a flash mob demonstration with their hands on their throat.

Floyd’s case has also inspired others to stand up against police brutality in their own countries. On May 30, over 200 citizens protested in Tokyo’s Shibuya district against two police officers who unjustly attacked a Kurdish man.


According to local newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, the police officers pulled the man over in Ebisu, Tokyo to search his car on the evening of May 22. The man refused, saying that he was on the way to an appointment. The cops then pushed him to the ground, leaving him with injuries on the neck, ribs, and legs.

A video recorded by the man's friend shows him desperate for help, while the police officers aggressively yell “don’t f**k with me.” The video went viral on Twitter, leading many to call out the police and rampant discrimination against foreign workers in Japan.


Protestors gathered in front of the Shibuya police office, with many chanting “Stop racial discrimination in the Japanese police force.” Some held signs comparing the incident to Floyd’s case.

While protesting, the Kurdish man and his friends spoke up to the police saying “Japanese police’s discrimination against foreigners is identical to the racial discrimination of police in the U.S. There is no difference.”


As Indians join the call for justice in the U.S., netizens are now saying that people should also be outraged by the police brutality that's so common in their country. More recently, the police have been criticised for utilising violence against citizens in implementing the coronavirus lockdown. Photos and videos all over social media show cops beating up citizens with sticks for not obeying the rules. This, even though many of the violators were migrants walking hundreds of kilometres home after being left jobless in the city, or essential service providers keeping the country going amid the lockdown. Photos and videos of cops beating them up with batons or punishing them in ridiculous, dehumanising ways like making them crawl, remind you that the pandemic is bringing out the worst in many, including some cops.


The situation is similar in the Philippines. Apart from the thousands who have been killed in the violent drug war, netizens also turned the spotlight on other instances of police brutality, like an incident in 2016 when a police van ran over protestors outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

The Philippines' coronavirus response has also been violent, including an incident of violators locked in dog cages and warrantless arrests.

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