World’s reaction to US terrorism on black people weaves solidarity

Demonstrators hold placards during a march in central Auckland, New Zealand, Monday, June 1. 2020, to protest the death of United States' George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd, who after a white police officer who is now charged with murder, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air. (Dean Purcell/New Zealand Herald via AP

BANGKOK (AP) — Several thousand people marched in New Zealand’s largest city on Monday to protest the killing of George Floyd in the U.S. as well as to stand up against police violence and racism in their own country.

Many people around the world have watched with growing unease at the civil unrest in the U.S. after the latest in a series of police killings of black men and women. Floyd died on May 25 in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing. The officer was fired and charged with murder.

The protesters in Auckland marched to the U.S. Consulate, where they kneeled. They held banners with slogans like “I can’t breathe” and “The real virus is racism.” Hundreds more joined the peaceful protests and vigils elsewhere in New Zealand, where Monday was a public holiday.

In Iran, which has in the recent past violently put down nationwide demonstrations by killing hundreds, arresting thousands and disrupting internet access to the outside world, state television has repeatedly aired images of the U.S. unrest.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi urged the U.S. government and police to stop the violence.

“To American officials and police: Stop violence against your people and let them breathe,” Mousavi said at a news conference in Tehran on Monday. He also told the American people that “the world is standing with you.” He added that Iran is saddened to see “the violence the U.S. police have recently” set off.

At a gathering in central London on Sunday, thousands offered support for American demonstrators, chanting “No justice! No peace!” and waving placards with the words “How many more?”

In other places, too, demonstrators wove solidarity with the U.S. protesters with messages aimed at local authorities.

In Brazil, hundreds of people protested crimes committed by the police against black people in Rio de Janeiro’s working-class neighborhoods, known as favelas. Police used tear gas to disperse them, with some demonstrators saying “I can’t breathe,” repeating Floyd’s own words.

In Canada, an anti-racism protest degenerated into clashes between Montreal police and some demonstrators. Police declared the gathering illegal after they say projectiles were thrown at officers who responded with pepper spray and tear gas. Some windows were smashed and some fires were set.

In authoritarian nations, the unrest became a chance to undermine U.S. criticism of their own situations. Iranian state television repeatedly aired images of the U.S. unrest. Russia said the United States had systemic human rights problems.

And state-controlled media in China saw the protests through the prism of American views on Hong Kong’s anti-government demonstrations, which China has long said the U.S. encouraged. In a commentary, the ruling Communist Party newspaper Global Times said Chinese experts had noted that U.S. politicians might think twice before commenting again on Hong Kong, knowing “their words might backfire.”

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Monday reported about the demonstrations, saying that protesters “harshly condemned” a white policeman’s “lawless and brutal murder” of a black citizen. Three large photos from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Reuters news agency and Agence France-Presse showed protest scenes from recent days in the city where Floyd was killed.

The article said hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the White House chanting “No justice, no peace,” and that demonstrations were occurring in other cities and were expected to grow. It did not make any direct comments about the Trump administration.

SYDNEY — Fearful of conflict, organizers have canceled a peaceful protest planned for Sydney over the death of George Floyd in the United States.

A rally planned at Sydney’s downtown Hyde Park for Tuesday was canceled on Monday after people threatened to create “havoc and protest against the event,” an organizer said on social media.

The rally was presented as a peaceful protest against the overrepresentation of indigenous Australians in Australia’s criminal justice system as well as in solidarity for Floyd who was “brutally and inhumanly murdered.”

Organizers posted that “although Australia is far from where the murder took place, we have a voice.”

Thousands of protesters are expected at similar rallies planned for the Australian cities of Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide on Saturday.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Sydney Radio 2GB on Monday “there’s no need to import things … happening in other countries here to Australia,” referring to U.S. riots.

___

TEHRAN, Iran — In Iran, which has in the recent past violently put down nationwide demonstrations by killing hundreds, arresting thousands and disrupting internet access to the outside world, state television has repeatedly aired images of the U.S. unrest.

Foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi urged the U.S. government and police to stop the violence against their own people during a press conference in Tehran on Monday.

“To American officials and police! Stop violence against your people and let them breathe,” Mousavi said and also sent a message to the American people that “the world is standing with you.” He added that Iran is saddened to see “the violence the U.S. police have recently” set off.

___

BEIJING — Chinese state media has weighed in on the protests in the U.S., comparing them to last year’s violent anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong that Beijing accuses the U.S. and other foreign forces as encouraging.

In an editorial Sunday, the ruling Communist Party newspaper Global Times said Chinese experts had noted that U.S. politicians might “think twice” before commenting again on issues in Hong Kong, knowing that “their words might backfire on them one day.”

That followed a commentary on state broadcaster CCTV Saturday that described the violence between police and protesters in the U.S. as “cup of bitter wine distilled by the U.S. politicians themselves.” Racism, the commentary said, is the “darkest shadow on American history and the scar that will not heal.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday that the protests in various American cities “once again reflect the racial discrimination in the U.S., the serious problems of police violent enforcement and the urgency of solving these problems.” China hopes the U.S. will “safeguard and guarantee the legal rights of ethnic minorities,” Zhao said at a daily briefing on Monday

The protests are an opportunity for China to allege double-standards and counter criticism from foreign governments and the Western media over its handling of the Hong Kong protests, its treatment of Muslim minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and other human rights issues.

___

SAN FRANCISCO — The state Department of Human Resources sent a directive to close all California state buildings “with offices in downtown city areas” on Monday, a sweeping mandate that covers everything from Department of Motor Vehicles offices to those that license workers and provide health care.

“After consultation with the California Highway Patrol and Office of Emergency Services, the decision was made this evening to advise all state departments with offices in downtown city areas to close tomorrow, and to notify staff of the decision,” said Amy Palmer, a spokeswoman for the state Government Operations Agency.

The directive was sent Sunday evening and it was left up to officials at individual agencies to determine which buildings should be closed.

A state Department of Justice memo sent to employees said the attorney general’s offices in Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego would be closed, though employees who can work from home should do so.

“Staff assigned to these offices should not report to work for any reason. Staff who are able to telework should continue to do so despite the office closures,” the memo said.

___

PORTLAND, Ore. — Police in Portland deployed tear gas to disperse a large crowd downtown late Sunday night after authorities said projectiles were thrown at officers.

Earlier, police said protesters smashed windows at the federal courthouse, and authorities on loudspeakers declared the gathering a civil disturbance.

Thousands of people marched throughout Oregon’s largest city on Sunday, the third day of George Floyd protests in Portland. For much of the afternoon and evening protesters were largely peaceful, but there were reports of increased violence directed at police into the night.

___

BOSTON — A Sunday afternoon of mostly peaceful protests in Boston broke at nightfall when protesters clashed with officers, throwing rocks, breaking into several stores and lighting a police vehicle on fire.

Boston police tweeted that at least 40 people had been arrested as of 3 a.m. Monday. Police said seven police officers had been hospitalized and 21 police cruisers were damaged.

A National Guard unit had been called in to help quell the clashes.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker called the violence “criminal and cowardly” in a tweet. The nighttime destruction was a stark contrast to the several protests earlier Sunday that featured thousands of demonstrations marching peacefully.

___

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Monday reported the demonstrations across the United States in reaction to the death of George Floyd, saying protesters “harshly condemned” a white police officer’s “lawless and brutal murder” of a black citizen.

The article, published with photos, said hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the White House chanting “No justice, no peace.” It also said there were demonstrations in Minneapolis, New York, Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles and Memphis and that the protests were expected to grow further.

___

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Several thousand people marched Monday in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, to protest George Floyd’s death and show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The protesters marched from Aotea Square to the U.S. consulate, where they kneeled. They held banners with slogans such as “I can’t breathe” and “The Real Virus is Racism.” Hundreds more joined protests and vigils elsewhere in the country, on a day that was a public holiday.

The protests were peaceful. Protesters said they were also standing up against police violence and racism in New Zealand.