US anti-racism protests stretch to distant New Zealand
Protests sweeping the United States over the death of George Floyd reverberated on the other side of the globe Monday when thousands marched in solidarity on the streets of New Zealand.
The rallies were peaceful in contrast to the days of sometimes violent protests in the US after Floyd, an African-American, died while handcuffed and as a white police officer, who has since been charged with third-degree murder, knelt on his neck.
In Auckland, about 2,000 people marched to the US Consulate chanting "no justice, no peace" and "black lives matter".
Another 500 gathered in Christchurch, with a similar number standing in the rain at an evening vigil at Parliament in Wellington where they were presented with hundreds of names said to be Americans who have died due to racial injustice.
Nigerian-New Zealand musician, Mazbou Q, who organised the protest, said the gatherings were not just about the death of Floyd.
"The... persecution of the black community is an ongoing phenomenon. The same white supremacy which has led to disproportionate killings of black people in the US exists here in New Zealand," he told the crowd in Auckland.
"We pride ourselves on being a nation of empathy, kindness and love. But the silence from the government and the media does not reflect that at all. In fact, it makes us complicit."
In Christchurch, where 51 people were killed by a self-proclaimed white supremacist last year, one speaker, Josephine Varghese, told the crowd: "We demand racial and economic justice. Black lives matter, indigenous lives matter, Muslim lives matter."
Police maintained a low-key presence as the protestors defied strict coronavirus regulations demanding gatherings be restricted to a maximum 100 people, who must maintain social distancing.
New Zealand is on the verge of eliminating the coronavirus with no new cases for 10 days. Of 1,154 confirmed cases, only one remains active.