Verdict heard around the world: Global reactions to the George Floyd case


A teenage witness filmed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in a video that was viewed by millions of people globally, sparking outrage and street protests for racial justice — not just in the United States.

Politicians at the highest levels of government were quick to weigh in. Foreign media outlets ran live coverage, showing how the trial resonated far beyond its national context, and highlighting the outsized role the U.S. racial justice conversation plays internationally as the rest of the world is forced to grapple with its own race relations — particularly in Australia.

“I was appalled by the death of George Floyd and welcome this verdict,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was thinking of Floyd’s loved ones. “By itself this won’t heal the pain of their loss, which reverberated around the world,” he wrote. “The guilty verdict must be the beginning of real change — not the end.”

David Lammy, a Labour Party lawmaker in Britain, tweeted: “No judgment can ever make up for murder, but it means everything that justice has been served tonight for George Floyd. Let this send a clear message both in the USA and across the world: #BlackLivesMatter.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an interview on Real Talk Ryan Jespersen on Tuesday evening that “it is good news that we saw the verdict come through where people hoped it would.”

“But it still underlines that there’s an awful lot of work to do,” he said.

Foreign news outlets featured prominent coverage of the verdict on their websites, with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. running live coverage and French newspaper Le Monde featuring it at the top of its website.

Floyd’s killing proved to be a moment of reckoning not only in the United States but across the world, as protesters took to the streets calling for justice in his case and pointing to what they saw as parallels in their own communities. In Britain last year, they chanted for Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old who was shot by police during his attempted arrest in 2011. In France, they said the name Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old who died in police custody in 2016.

In Australia, where Floyd’s death last year spurred a resurgence in activism over Indigenous people’s deaths in custody, the guilty verdict led to fresh calls for authorities to scrutinize more than 400 Aboriginal deaths in custody.

“It took more than a year and a very long history of civil rights advocacy to get to this point, to charge one officer for one murder,” Latoya Aroha Rule, who helped organize Black Lives Matter rallies in cities across Australia last year, said in an interview. “But it does only take one injustice sometimes when people choose to act. I have to remain hopeful this will have some implication in the global racial violence and injustice movement.”

Rule lost a brother, Wayne Fella Morrison, in 2016 after he was pinned down by correctional officers and placed facedown in the back of a prison van, his hands and feet bound with restraints and a spit-hood pulled over his head. An inquest into his death begins next week.

On Twitter, people also pointed to the case of David Dungay Jr., a 26-year-old Aboriginal man who died in similar circumstances in a Sydney correctional facility in 2015 after being restrained by five prison guards in his cell.

Video footage aired at a subsequent inquest showed Dungay telling the guards who were pinning him to his bed “I can’t breathe” at least 12 times. The inquest didn’t recommend disciplinary action against the guards. A petition calling for charges to be laid has garnered more than 113,000 signatures.

“Even [compared to] somewhere like America that is seen as ground zero for police brutality, Australia is less accountable to the brutality of its prison and police officers,” Rule said. “An outcome like George Floyd’s case is not possible for our case.”

The effort to connect George Floyd’s death to racial justice issues around the world has faced resistance from some leaders. In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other conservative lawmakers blamed last year’s protests on fringe groups they said were using the U.S. protests to stoke divisions. Morrison’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the verdict.

Even as many around the world welcomed the verdict, a top police official in Australia’s most populous state appeared on television and radio decrying a Sydney school for allowing anti-police and Black Lives Matter posters in classrooms, calling it “indoctrination” and maintaining there was no “race problem” in Australia.

“The racist rants … lines about how white lives don’t matter or they matter too much; this is the sort of racism that gets the United States into trouble. It has got no place in Australia,” said David Elliott, the New South Wales police minister.

O’Grady reported from Washington and Pannett from Sydney.

This report has been updated.

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