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Global Protests Over Police Violence and Racism

Protests over violence against people of color have continued around the world. The protests have focused attention on racism in a way that has rarely been seen, and are leading to real changes in laws and rules.

Protests broke out across the US after the death of George Floyd, who was black. Mr. Floyd died after a white police officer held his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Mr. Floyd was the latest in a long list of people of color who died as a result of police violence.

The protests began in the US, and are still largest and strongest there. But racism is a problem in many countries, and the ideas behind the protests have struck home with people around the world.

#BLM Demonstration Hamburg 2020-06-05
The protests began in the US, and are still largest and strongest there. But racism is a problem in many countries, and the ideas behind the protests have struck home with people around the world. Above, a sign in Hamburg, Germany in support of the protests.
(Source: Rasande Tyskar, via Flickr.com.)

The protests are leading to important changes. The US Congress has introduced a bill designed to tackle police violence and racism. Leaders of Congress hope to pass the bill by the end of summer.

Many cities, states, and police departments are changing rules and laws locally to limit violent actions by police. New cases of police violence are drawing attention and quick responses.

Congress kneels for Black Lives Matter
The protests are leading to changes. The US Congress has introduced a bill designed to tackle police violence and racism. Leaders of Congress hope to pass the bill by the end of summer. Above, members of Congress kneel for Black Lives Matter.
(Source: Office of Congressman Colin Allred [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

The topic may also soon come up at the United Nations (UN). All 54 countries in Africa have requested a UN discussion of the way people from Africa are treated in countries around the world.

Changes are also happening in groups not connected to governments. In 2016, American football player Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the US national anthem as a protest over police violence against black people. He was criticized and punished as a result.

Now the NFL and MLS, two important US sports groups, say protesting by “taking a knee” is allowed.

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In 2016, American football player Colin Kaepernick (above, second from right) began kneeling during the US national anthem as a protest over police violence against black people. He was criticized at the time. Now the NFL says these protests are allowed.

The ideas behind the protests are also growing and changing. Many protesters are asking how such racism has been allowed to exist, and are looking back at history. Many countries which are rich and powerful today have a history in which slaves from Africa played a large part.

Now people are questioning how events from the past are remembered, and which people from the past should be honored.

In several countries around the world, people have torn down or damaged statues of people who are part of this racist past. In Bristol, England, protesters pulled down a statue of a man who traded slaves and threw the statue into the water.

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In several countries around the world, people have torn down or damaged statues of people who are part of this racist past. In Bristol, England, protesters pulled down a statue of a man who traded slaves and threw the statue into the water (above).

In the US, these ideas often focus on the American civil war, since the southern states (known as the Confederates or the Confederacy) didn’t want to end slavery. For this reason, items connected to the Confederacy are often seen as racist.

In the US, statues of Confederate soldiers have been attacked. Others have been taken down on purpose by local governments. The car racing group NASCAR has banned flying the Confederate flag at its races.

Statues of Christopher Columbus have been another target for protesters. Many older history books celebrate Columbus as the person who “discovered” the new world.

The fallen Christopher Columbus statue outside the Minnesota State Capitol after a group led by American Indian Movement members tore it down in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 10, 2020.
Statues of Christopher Columbus have been a target for protesters. Many people find it racist to say Columbus “discovered” a place where Native American people had been living for 15,000 years. Above, a Columbus statue pulled down in Minnesota.
(Source: Tony Webster [CC BY], via Wikimedia Commons.)

Many people find it insulting and racist to say a European person “discovered” a place where Native American people had already been living for 15,000 years.

The protests over racism and justice show no sign of ending soon, and will likely bring more changes.

George Floyd Rally at North Park (2020 May)
The protests over racism and justice show no sign of ending soon, and will likely bring more changes.
(Source: Anthony Crider, via Flickr.com.)

Below are just a few examples of what’s going on with protests around the world:

• Canada: Large protests continue in many Canadian cities. Tensions have grown recently after the release of a video showing a police officer punching an indigenous leader in the face.

• United Kingdom: The United Kingdom has had large protests in many cities for weeks. But this weekend, the protesters were met by violent far right protesters who want to protect their ideas about white history.

• Australia: Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Australia, where many people are looking carefully at the way the country’s Aboriginal (indigenous) people are treated.

• New Zealand: Thousands of New Zealanders have been protesting and marching in Wellington and Auckland.

• Germany: Many large protests have been held in Germany. Over the weekend, protesters in Berlin organized a 5.6 mile (nine-kilometer) long human chain to show support for the movement.

• France: Large protests have taken place in Paris and other cities, with protesters chanting “No Justice, No Peace”. Some of the protests turned violent, and police used tear gas on the protesters.

• Japan: Thousands of people gathered for protests in Tokyo and Osaka.

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