WASHINGTON – Huge peaceful rallies have taken place across the US against racism and police brutality on the 12th day of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Tens of thousands of people marched in Washington DC, in the city’s largest protest so far. Security forces blocked any approach to the White House.
Crowds also demonstrated in New York, Chicago, LA and San Francisco.
Meanwhile, people paid their respects to Mr Floyd in North Carolina, where he was born, before a memorial service.
Mr Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in police custody in Minneapolis on 25 May. Video showed a white police officer kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes while he is pinned to the floor.
Officer Derek Chauvin has been dismissed and charged with murder. Three other officers who were at the scene have also been sacked and charged with aiding and abetting.
Large anti-racism protests also took place in a number of other countries. In the UK, Parliament Square in central London was filled with people despite calls by the government to avoid mass gatherings for fear of spreading the coronavirus.
In Australia, there were major protests in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that focused on the treatment of indigenous Australians. There were also demonstrations in France, Germany and Spain.
What happened at the protests?
The largest appeared to be in Washington DC, where protesters – many of them carrying placards saying “Black Lives Matter” – gathered peacefully near the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and outside Lafayette Park, next to the White House, at the newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Mayor Muriel Bowser welcomed people, saying the crowds had sent a message to President Donald Trump. On Monday, federal law enforcement officers fired tear gas to clear a protest in the area ahead of a visit to a church by the president.
“If he can take over Washington DC, he can come for any state, and none of us will be safe,” she said. “Our soldiers should not be treated that way, they should not be asked to move on American citizens.”
Ms Bowser has requested the withdrawal of all federal law enforcement officers and National Guard troops from the city, saying their presence is “unnecessary”.
One 35-year-old protester, Eric Wood, told the BBC: “I’m here because I really couldn’t afford not to be here. Racism has long been a part of the US.”
Crystal Ballinger, 46, said she felt hopeful about the movement this time. “I feel something different about this protest… I’m hopeful that the message of solidarity and equality is getting out.”
Many of the city curfews imposed after initial unrest have now been lifted. With restrictions eased, arrests have plummeted.
However, late on Saturday police in Portland, Oregon, declared an “unlawful assembly and civil disturbance” after projectiles were thrown at officers near the Justice Center. Seattle police also said projectiles had been thrown and several officers were hurt by “improvised explosives”.
Earlier in New York, crowds crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, while in San Francisco demonstrators briefly shut the Golden Gate Bridge. In Chicago, about 30,000 people rallied in Union Park, and a Hollywood intersection was blocked by protesters in Los Angeles.
And in Richmond, Virginia, a statue of a Confederate general was pulled down from its pedestal.
There were also protests in Atlanta and Philadelphia, where crowds chanted, “We need justice, we need love”.
Meanwhile, the top editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer resigned after publishing a headline that equated property damage to the deaths of black people, which prompted public condemnation from many of the newspaper’s staff.
Stan Wischnowski apologised for what he described as a “horribly wrong” decision to use the headline “Buildings Matter Too” on an article about civil unrest in the US.
In Buffalo, two policemen were charged with second-degree assault after they were filmed pushing a 75-year old protester to the ground, seriously injuring him.
In his overnight tweets, President Trump thanked the police, Secret Service and National Guard for doing a “fantastic job” and said that the Washington crowd was “much smaller than anticipated.