'No to racism!': Statues targeted as George Floyd anti-racism protests spread across Europe

Demonstrators gather in front the American embassy in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, June 7, 2020 during a protest over the death of George Floyd and victims of racial injustice.
Demonstrators gather in front the American embassy in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, June 7, 2020 during a protest over the death of George Floyd and victims of racial injustice. Copyright AP Photo/Bernat Armangue
By Alessio Dell'AnnaAlasdair Sandford with AP, AFP
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Demonstrations have taken place in Spain, Italy, Hungary, the UK, Denmark and Belgium as Europe sees second day of protest over George Floyd's death.


Thousands across Europe demonstrated for the second consecutive day on Sunday, in support of a global protest against racism and police brutality that followed the death of 46-year-old black-American George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25.

People took to the streets in the UK, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and Hungary.

Around 3,000 people gathered in front of the US embassy in Madrid repeating Floyd's last words "I can't breathe", and chanting "No peace without justice".

Some protesters were holding placards against US President Donald Trump.

Protesters in the Spanish capital also knelt on the ground raising their fists, a gesture initiated by American football player Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

They then walked peacefully to the iconic Puerta del Sol, in the heart of the capital.

"Racism knows no borders," Leinisa Seemdo, a 26-year-old Spanish translator from Cape Verde, said

"I have lived in China, Portugal, and now in Spain, and in every country I have experienced discrimination because of my skin colour."

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Barcelona as well.

(Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse via AP
People gather in Rome on Sunday, June 7, 2020, in the capital city's first major protests against racism(Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse via AP

First major rally in Rome

In Rome, thousands of young people knelt in silence with their fists raised for almost nine minutes, the time Floyd had a policeman's knee pressed on his neck before he died.

When they got up, they shouted: "George Floyd is here! No to racism!". Participants also listened to speeches and held up handmade placards saying “Black Lives Matter” and “It’s a White Problem.”

It was the first major anti-racism rally held in the Italian capital.

Another demonstration took place in Milan despite the heavy rain and strong wind.

Authorities estimated a couple of thousands of protesters may have been taking part.

AP Photo/Olivier Matthys
Protesters hold placards as they gather in central Brussels during the Black Lives Matter protest rally, Sunday, June 7, 2020.AP Photo/Olivier Matthys

Colonial era statues targeted in Brussels and Bristol

In Budapest, demonstrators staged a sit-in outside the US embassy on Sunday, chanting songs and observing silence for George Floyd.

Other protests took place in Copenhagen and Brussels, as well as in Glasgow and London.

In the Belgian capital -- where an estimated 10,000 protesters turned out — demonstrators climbed onto the statue of colonial King Léopold II chanting "murderer" and waving the flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There were smaller rallies in the cities of Antwerp and Ghent.


In the British capital, there were some scuffles again on Sunday evening. But earlier, thousands gathered peacefully outside the US embassy for a second straight day of protests against racial injustice.

London-based student Darcy Bourne says she thinks everyone knows the protest is about more than just Floyd, but about racism around the world.

Another student, Steffi Cox, says racism is a global issue and that people need to “come together and make sure everyone is educated.”

Meanwhile, in Bristol, about 177 kilometres west of London, protesters on Sunday celebrated as they toppled a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston. It was then dragged rolled through the streets before being dumped in the River Avon.

Saturday clashes condemned

UK authorities tried to discourage protests amid current lockdown measures that ban gatherings of more than six people.


The country's most senior police chief said 14 officers were injured on Saturday during clashes with protesters in central London that followed a largely peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration attended by tens of thousands.

Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said the assaults on officers were “shocking and completely unacceptable.” She said a number of arrests have been made and “justice will follow.” The clashes broke out in the early evening near the office of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, says violence is “simply not acceptable” and has urged those protesting to do so lawfully while also maintaining social distancing.

Twelve people have been arrested with the majority of the arrests made for public order offences. One was for criminal damage, the Metropolitan Police has said.

Germany and France saw clashes too on Saturday.

In Berlin, police said 93 people were detained in connection with a demonstration attended by about 15,000 people in the German capital.


Police said several officers and one press photographer were injured after bottles and rocks were thrown from the crowd, which had gathered despite police orders to clear the city's Alexander Square.

In Marseille, France, police fired tear gas and pepper spray in skirmishes with protesters who hurled bottles and rocks after what had been an emotional yet peaceful demonstration.

Around 23,000 people joined protests across France on Saturday. This week's protests followed those of June 2, when thousands marched for George Floyd and Adama Traoré in Paris.

Traoré's family has been calling for justice in the case of the death of 24-year-old Adama Traoré since 2016.

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