Reactions to US race protests | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 05, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:20 AM, June 05, 2020

Reactions to US race protests

Sports stars, musicians, politicians and religious leaders have queued up to condemn the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man whose killing has touched off once-in-a-generation protests across the US. Here is a round-up of global reactions to his death and the demonstrations that have convulsed the United States in the past week.


Your dreams matter: Obama

Former US president Barack Obama on Wednesday applauded the "profound" protests by Americans demanding racial justice. "I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, your dreams matter." The 58-year-old noted the deadly upheaval of the 1960s civil rights movement, and said "a far more representative cross-section of America" is protesting now than as compared to half a century ago. "There is a change in mindset that's taking place, a greater recognition that we can do better," Obama said.


Structural racism: Bachelet

The UN rights chief slammed "structural racism" in the US and the "unprecedented assault" on journalists covering the protests in fresh comments Wednesday. "The voices calling for an end to the killings of unarmed African Americans need to be heard. The voices calling for an end to police violence need to be heard. And the voices calling for an end to the endemic and structural racism that blights US society need to be heard," Michelle Bachelet said.


Abuse of power: Borrell

EU High Representative Josep Borrell said Europe was "shocked and appalled" by Floyd's death. "This is an abuse of power and this has to be denounced, has to be combatted, in the States and everywhere," he added.


Undermines US democracy: Carter

US ex-president Jimmy Carter said Wednesday he was pained by last week's police killing of an unarmed black man and urged authorities to end discriminatory policing and other systemic injustices that "undermine" American democracy. "People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say 'no more' to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy," Carter said in a statement released by the Carter Center.


Tragic failures: GB Bush

Former president George W Bush called on the US to take a hard look at its "tragic failures". "It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country," Bush said in the statement. "This tragedy -- in a long series of similar tragedies -- raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society?" said Bush. "It is time for America to examine our tragic failures," he stated.  "Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America -- or how it becomes a better place," he said without mentioning President Trump.


Trump trying to divide US: Mattis

Former Pentagon chief Jim Mattis issued a stinging rebuke of his erstwhile boss Trump, accusing the president of trying to "divide" America and failing to provide "mature leadership". "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people -- does not even pretend to try," Mattis wrote in a blistering statement posted online by The Atlantic. "Instead, he tries to divide us," added the retired general. "We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership," he stated.


Racism has no place in our society: Johnson

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "sickened and appalled" by Floyd's death. "My message to President Trump, to everybody in the United States... is that racism, racist violence has no place in our society," he said.


'Intolerable' racism: Pope

The Pope decried racism over Floyd's killing -- along with "self-destructive and self-defeating" violent protests that followed across the US. "We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism", he said Wednesday of Floyd's killing.


True face of America: Khamenei

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also condemned the violence -- with a more political message. "It is the true face of America, it's what it has always done all over the world -- in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and other countries, and before that in Vietnam."

Global marches

From Dublin to Wellington, Rotterdam to Paris, thousands gathered for protests this week in solidarity with the US demonstrations. There were demonstrations across Europe on Wednesday, with protesters throwing Molotov cocktails outside the US Embassy in Athens at a rally in the Greek capital attended by three thousand people. Protests in different cities of United Kingdom have been staged and more are on the cards. Several thousand protesters also turned out in Finnish capital Helsinki as well as Stockholm -- although Swedish police broke up that rally due to coronavirus restrictions on large gatherings. Further protests have been called in Portugal's capital Lisbon tomorrow, Poland's Warsaw on Saturday and several Spanish cities on Sunday.


What started out as a campaign among music industry executive quickly swept across social media, with stars from Rihanna, Drake, Beyoncé and Kylie Jenner posting a stark black square to their Instagram feeds on Tuesday with the hashtag #BlackOutTuesday. The campaign initially called for music industry employees to take a day off work in solidarity with anti-racism protests, but mushroomed across the internet.

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