MELBOURNE/TOKYO • Thousands took to the streets across Australia yesterday, as did hundreds in Tokyo and Seoul to support US protests against police brutality.
The rolling, global protests reflect rising anger over police treatment of ethnic minorities, sparked by the May 25 killing of Mr George Floyd in Minneapolis after a police officer detaining him knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes as fellow officers stood by.
Demonstrations across the Asia-Pacific, however, were limited by social distancing curbs amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In Brisbane, police estimated that 10,000 people joined a peaceful protest, wearing masks and holding “Black Lives Matter” placards. Many wrapped themselves in indigenous flags, calling for an end to police mistreatment of indigenous Australians.
In Sydney, a last-minute court decision overruled a coronavirus ban as several thousand people marched amid heavy police presence, chanting: “Whose lives matter? Black lives matter.” Rallies were also held in Melbourne, Adelaide and other Australian cities.
In the Japanese capital, Tokyo, marchers protested against police mistreatment of a Kurdish man who said he was stopped while driving and shoved to the ground, leaving him with bruises.
Organisers invoked the US protests, saying they were also marching in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I want to show that there’s racism in Japan now,” said 17-year-old high school student Wakaba, who declined to give her family name. “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” the crowd chanted.
In Seoul, dozens of South Korean activists and foreign residents gathered, some wearing black masks with the phrase “can’t breathe” in Korean, echoing Mr Floyd’s final words as he lay on the pavement. Others participated in an online “viral photo protest”.