Black Lives Matter protests turn violent across Europe

Posted by News Express | 13 June 2020 | 674 times

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• Black lives matter protests

Riot police fired tear gas and charged at violent protesters at an anti-racism rally in Paris on Saturday, while in London far-right protesters clashed with anti-racism demonstrators and the police who were trying to keep the two sides apart.

More than 10,000 people marched peacefully Saturday in Zurich, while a smaller, separate leftist group threw objects at police, as a wave of anger continued to sweep the world following the death of African American George Floyd.

And in Australia, protesters marched by the thousands, wearing masks and at a social distance.

In Paris, protesters gathered in Place de la Republique, chanting "No justice, no peace" beneath the statue of Marianne, who personifies the French Republic. The first clashes erupted after three hours of peaceful gathering. Some protesters hurled bottles, paving stones and bicycle wheels at police lines. Organizers urged protesters with children to leave.

The outrage generated by Floyd's death in Minneapolis last month has resonated in France, especially in deprived city suburbs where rights groups say that accusations of brutal treatment by French police of residents of often immigrant background remain largely unaddressed.

Assa Traore, sister of Adama Traore, 24, who died near Paris in 2016 after police detained him, addressed Saturday's protest.

"The death of George Floyd has a strong echo in the death in France of my little brother," she said. "What's happening in the United States is happening in France. Our brothers are dying."

Traore's family say he was asphyxiated when three officers held him down with the weight of their bodies. Authorities say the cause of his death is unclear.

Far-right activists unfurled a banner with the words "anti-white racism" from the rooftop of a building overlooking the protest. Residents emerged onto their balconies and ripped it up, using knives and scissors, to cheers from below.

Another protest against racism and police violence took place in the afternoon in Marseille.  BFM television footage showed protesters burning bins and throwing stones toward anti-riot police.

In London, fights broke out between groups outside Waterloo station, with fireworks thrown before police cordoned off areas. On a nearby bridge, stones were lobbed at police. Sporadic skirmishes continued in central areas.

"Racist thuggery has no place on our streets," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet. "Anyone attacking our police will be met with the full force of the law."

Earlier in the day, small bands of protesters jostled and tossed bottles and cans in Trafalgar Square. Far-right groups shouted racial slurs at the anti-racism protesters, and some tried to use metal crash barriers to break through police lines.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement they had arrested five people for offenses including violent disorder and assault on police and that six officers had suffered minor injuries. The ambulance service said it had treated 15 people.

"It is clear that far-right groups are causing violence and disorder in central London, I urge people to stay away," Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter.

The far-right groups said they wanted to defend British culture, in particular historical monuments, after the toppling of the statue of a 17th-century slave trader in the port city of Bristol last weekend sparked calls for others to come down.

"Winston Churchill, he's one of our own," they also chanted, near the statue of the World War II leader, which last weekend was sprayed with graffiti reading: "Churchill was a racist."

"My culture is under attack. This is my culture and my English history. Why should Churchill be boarded up? Why is the Cenotaph [a war memorial in London] attacked? It is not right," said David Allen, one of the protesters.

In Zurich, thousands of people marched, chanting, "Black lives matter," "No justice, no peace" and "Say his name: George Floyd." The protesters, most clad entirely in black, snaked through the center of Switzerland's financial hub, joined by thousands more in other Swiss cities.

Even though Swiss gatherings of more than 300 people are banned to help curb the spread of the new coronovirus, police said they would tolerate the unauthorized assembly as long as it remained peaceful.

As the main march was dispersing, authorities clashed with a separate group of around 300 leftist agitators gathered in a square in the city center who were throwing stones and bottles, police said.

Police used pepper spray and detained several people. One policeman was hurt. 

Australians marched Saturday amid warnings from state leaders to call off the events on fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections. And yet thousands turned out in all major cities. 

The Black Lives Matter rallies, dominated by a heavy police presence, were mostly peaceful. 

"There have been people like my dad and Aunty Mingelly who have been pushing for change since they were my age — you know, that was 50 years ago," Jacinta Taylor, an organizer of the protest in Perth, told the rally. "I don't want to be having to be 80 years old and pushing for this kind of change for my children and my children's children."

Perth saw the largest gathering of all major Australian cities Saturday, despite pleas from the premier of Western Australia state, Mark McGowan, to cancel the event until the coronavirus pandemic was over.  (Reuters via VOA)





Source: News Express

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