Thousands demonstrated on Sunday in Spain and Italy, adding their voices to millions worldwide who, for almost two weeks now, have been denouncing racism and police brutality following the killing of a black man by a white policeman in the U.S. city of Minneapolis.
Some 3,000 persons, black and white, massed around midday on Sunday outside the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, according to police in the Spanish capital. Denouncing the death of 46-year-old African-American George Floyd, they repeated his last words, “I can’t breathe”, and chanted “No justice, no peace” and “You racists are the terrorists.”
In Italy, an unscheduled demonstration was held on the vast Piazza del Popolo, where thousands of young people knelt in silence, their fists held high for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the time during which the policeman knelt on Floyd’s neck, strangling him to death. On getting up, they shouted “I can’t breathe!”.
In Madrid, the demonstrators also knelt on one knee with a fist in the air, a gesture initiated by U.S. football player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 in a stadium, while the U.S. national anthem was being played. They then marched peacefully to the emblematic Puerta del Sol in the heart of the Spanish capital.
In Rome, the crowd included many African immigrants, like Michael Taylor, originally from Botswana, who was there with his entire family. “I am a white African, and I sometimes feel the fear and disdain solely because I am a foreigner,” he told AFP. “Imagine what it would be like if I were black.”
“It’s really difficult to live here,” said 32-year-old Senegalese Morikeba Samate, one of the migrants who have been arriving by the tens of thousands in Italy after risking their lives in the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. “They feel we are all thieves.”
In Barcelona, northern Spain, hundreds of demonstrators filled Sant Jaume Plaza, seat of Catalonia’s regional government. Wearing face masks and practicing physical distancing, they brandished placards in English denouncing racism in Spain and Europe.
The CNAAE organisation, made up of members of the black, African and African-descendant community in Spain, called for people to demonstrate in about a dozen Spanish cities, from Pamplona in the Basque country, to the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.
Other protests were scheduled for Copenhagen, Glasgow (Scotland) and London, where on Saturday, a peaceful demonstration by thousands of people ended with clashes.