Protesters gather outside US embassy in Dublin over George Floyd death
Demonstrators gather in Ballsbridge and Belfast despite authorities urging people not to
Hundreds of protesters gathered at the US embassy in Ballsbridge in Dublin on Saturday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Mr Floyd was killed on May 25th while in police custody in the city of Minneapolis. He died after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck, sparking days of protest.
Demonstrations also took place in Northern Ireland with crowds gathering in Derry and outside Custom House Square in Belfast.
In Dublin, organisers of the protest handed out personal protective equipment (PPE) to those in attendance and urged people to respect social distancing measures.
At the protest was Lucky Khambule of Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (Masi).
“Today is a protest by the people in response to what has happened in America when George Floyd has been killed innocently,” he said.
He said the protesters had gathered “in solidarity with all the black people and everyone else in America and throughout the world, because what happened there is something that can happen to you, can happen to me can happen to everybody.”
“So we are here standing and saying no to racism and direct provision. Let people live freely and be a happy family.”
Also present was Patrick Umokoro, of the Neo Black Movement of Africa, who said: “This protest is not a black against white thing. This is a protest to say all lives matter, including black lives.”
A Garda spokeswoman said gardaí had been in contact with the organisers of protests to make them aware of their obligations under Covid-19 regulations.
“An Garda Síochána has also advised them of the health risk to participants and the wider community from such protests,” she said.
“In addition, both the CMO [chief medical officer] and the Minister for Health have stated that such mass gatherings should not take place as they may pose a health risk to those taking part and those that attendees have contact with after the event.”
In the North, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd had urged organisers to call off the rallies, saying any gathering of more than six people was against coronavirus regulations, as was travelling for a protest.
The Lord Mayor of Dublin had on Friday urged people not to join the protest, saying people could show their solidarity by signing an online book of condolence for Mr Floyd.
Tom Brabazon told Newstalk FM that protest organisers would not be able to control every individual who attends. “I understand why people were angry and I understand the need to protest but we are in the middle of a pandemic and I would urge people to look at alternatives in terms of getting their message across.
“One of those ways is the online book of condolence that was opened up by Dublin City Council.
“And while a lot of the individuals will be responsible and try to socially distance, it is not always going to be possible with those numbers involved.” – Additional reporting: PA