Europe braces for weekend of Black Lives Matter protests

Demonstrations in the US following the death of George Floyd have spread across the Atlantic

Demonstrators wearing protective face masks and face coverings hold placards as they march to the Home Office during a Black Lives Matter protest in London, following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis, London, Britain, June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
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European cities are bracing themselves for another wave of protests in solidarity with anti-racism demonstrations in the United States over the death of a black citizen.

After a week of protests in the United States following George Floyd’s killing in police custody on May 25, demonstrations have spread across the Atlantic despite ongoing movement restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19.

In Paris, protesters defied government orders to protest outside the US Embassy.

Police had banned three gatherings across the city citing the risk that protests could spread coronavirus and fears of public unrest for banning the demonstration.

The decree by authorities emphasised that social distancing regulations ban gatherings of more than 10 people in France. Despite orders, however, calls continued on social media for individuals to gather.

At the US Embassy, protesters were met by riot police who turned people away from the building. French security forces sealed off the US diplomatic building behind an imposing ring of metal barriers and road blocks.

In Britain, similarly, the government has reiterated the danger to public health posed by the protests.

“We’re still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat," UK Heath Secretary Matt Hancock said on Friday. He reiterated that in Britain gatherings of more than six were banned.

However, on Saturday protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement gathered in their hundreds in central London. The demonstrators carried placards that read “smash racism, jobs and homes for all” and “respect existence or expect resistance”.

Protests were planned in cities across Britain on both Saturday and Sunday.

In Berlin, where police said 15,000 people rallied peacefully on the city's Alexander Square, protesters chanted the name of George Floyd and held up placards with slogans such as "I can't breath."

Despite the peaceful character of the protests on Saturday, police said several store windows were smashed overnight and walls were painted with slogans referring to George Floyd's death.

Demonstrations of solidarity also took place in Sydney, Seoul and Tokyo among other cities and towns worldwide.

In the US protests are also expected to continue nationwide, with gatherings of over 100,000 expected in Washington DC on Saturday.

Demonstrations are planned in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis where Mr Floyd died.

The four officers seen in video footage of Mr Floyd’s killing have all now been charged over the incident.