George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis in May 2020 ignited the country’s greatest racial justice demonstrations since the Civil Rights Movement. However, the movement transcended national boundaries – it sparked a worldwide confrontation with racism.
This time last year, nations across the world we’re seeing some of the biggest Black Lives Matter rallies in history, all sparked by footage of Floyd’s violent murder in police custody on May 25, 2020. Across countries and cultures, Black activists regarded Floyd’s assassination as a symbol of the bigotry and injustice they confront on a daily basis.
Several of these nations each had their own George Floyd – a black individual whose death as a result of police brutality or racial violence sparked an outcry throughout the country. Activists recognized that there was no turning back to the way things were before to seeing Floyd’s dying moments.
President Biden said that during his meeting with Floyd’s little daughter Gianna, she expressed to him that her father “changed the world.” These global demonstrations demonstrate how correct she was.
Impact on UK
Outside of the United States, the United Kingdom had the biggest Black Lives Matter demonstrations last summer. Even prior to the assassination of George Floyd, demonstrators had been motivated by a death in their own country.
Belly Mujinga, a black transport worker in London, died in April 2020 from COVID-19 after alleging that a white man spat on her during a racial incident at work. Mujinga had complained before the tragedy about not having enough protection while working during the epidemic, according to coworkers.
The investigation was dismissed by police due to a lack of evidence, which sparked an initial wave of demonstrations. Floyd’s assassination galvanized this into a bigger campaign against the country’s historical and structural racism.
At some of the protests, protesters and police fought. Certain demonstrators demolished and destroyed sculptures of slave dealers and political figures, including those regarded as national heroes. A sign labelling Winston Churchill a “racist” was spray-painted over a monument of him in London’s Parliament Square.
Within days, London’s demonstrations grew from approximately 20 protesters outside the US embassy to over 20,000. Celebrities such as Madonna and John Boyega participated, the latter of whom delivered a passionate appeal to demonstrators.
After months of demonstrations, the government commissioned research on institutional racism in the United Kingdom. However, its March 2021 publication startled campaigners since it categorically denied their accusations of systemic flaws.
The next month, Parliament granted the police more authority to ban demonstrations. Ironically, it sparked a fresh wave of demonstrations with the rallying cry “Kill The Bill,” which also brought attention to the issue of gender-based violence.
Ayton remarked that since the BLM movement began in the United Kingdom, we have gone one stride forward and almost five steps back.
Impact on New Zealand
New Zealand has a worldwide reputation for tolerance and harmony. However, Black Lives Matter demonstrators, there, assert that this is due to an unwillingness to address racism and prejudice openly. George Floyd initiated such discussions.
Protests occurred at the same time that New Zealand conducted a trial run of arming its police officers — something that is not normal in the country. The experiment was in reaction to the horrific killings at two Christchurch mosques in 2019, which were carried out by a white nationalist. However, black and Indigenous communities were concerned that armed police would endanger them.
Impact on France
Protesters in France demonstrated against their country’s own history of racial injustice and police violence, which is very distinct from that of the United States.
In 1960, 17 sub-Saharan African states achieved independence from their previous European colonists, including 14 former French colonies. Today, a significant proportion of the black population in France is descended from those colonies.
With an eye toward the United States, children of African and Caribbean immigrants are introducing race into public discourse.
Thousands of protestors in Paris were joined by the family of Adama Traore, who died in identical circumstances to Floyd on his 24th birthday in 2016. Three police officers pressed their bodies on him to detain him, and he died shortly after being transported to a police station. There were no charges filed in connection with his death.
Impact on Columbia
In Colombia, the news of Floyd’s death was sandwiched between two infamous police executions.
On May 22, 2020 — only three days before Floyd’s assassination — cops beat to death a young black guy named Anderson Arboleda for allegedly breaching coronavirus curfew rules. Protesters quickly marched to the US embassy in Bogota, inspired by both Arboleda and Floyd’s killings.
Then, on September 9, 46-year-old Javier Ordóez died as a result of police brutality seen on film. Ordóez is heard on the video crying “I’m choking” and “Enough, no more, please” as policemen squat on him and stun him.
The killings sparked months of demonstrations, with some of them culminating in violent and even fatal police crackdowns. Local activist organisations report that at least 43 people have been murdered by police during recent rallies in Colombia against injustice and police brutality. Additionally, over 2,900 instances of police violence have been documented.
Washington, D.C. became a national focus for the Black Lives Matter movement during the summer of demonstrations that swept throughout the United States. The city established Black Lives Matter Plaza outside the White House less than two weeks after Floyd’s murder, and it has since been a frequent site of protest and activity.
Additionally, Washington was the scene of the country’s most infamous crackdown on demonstrators. On June 1, law police deployed tear gas and riot control measures to disperse peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square, allowing then-President Trump to cross the cleared street and pose with a Bible in front of the destroyed St. John’s Church.