As more than 20,000 protesters in Paris reminded us last night, police violence against people of color is a global issue. Demonstrations have been held in cities across the world, including London, Auckland, and Berlin to condemn the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis. There is something more than just solidarity with American victims in the outpourings, even though the notorious tough police tactics, as well as historical racism, feed the problem in the United States. There are cases of unarmed people killed at the hands of police in other countries, and often there is also race and history involved

France: The Paris protests Tuesday night centered around the 2016 death of 24-year-old construction worker Adama Traoré in police custody.

  • Expert opinions have been conflicted around the police's role in his death. His family, who have been at the forefront of the Truth for Adama Movement, recently presented evidence that asphyxiation caused by excessive police force killed him.
  • Large-scale anti-police demonstrations took place in France in 2005, after two teenagers, one black and one Arab, were killed while trying to escape police custody.
  • "In France, it is the scars of slavery, the scars of colonialism that we suffer from, that result in these barbaric acts," actor Greg Germain told French public TV at the Paris protest. "I beg the French State: Let this be a lesson for us."

Belgium: A few weeks ago in Brussels, Adil a 19-year-old of Moroccan descent, died after being struck by a police vehicle.

  • Last year, a similar incident left a 17-year-old named Mehdi Bouda dead, launching the "justice for Mehdi" movement on social media.
  • In a 2018 study by Amnesty International, half of Belgian police officers interviewed said there was a problem with ethnic profiling and dubious practices around identity stops.
  • Police also often take or break bystander's phones to prevent them from filming.

March for Mehdi Bouda in Brussels in October — Photo: Hugo Monnier via Instagram

Brazil: The latest in a long history of police killings, a 14-year-old boy died after being shot in the back during a botched drug arrest operation in the Rio de Janeiro area. Over the weekend, protestors marched in the country's favelas against unprecedented police violence:

  • João Pedro Matos, who dreamed of being a lawyer, is one of the thousands of black Brazilians who have been killed by police.
  • Between 2017 and 2018 in Brazil, more than 75% of those who died in police interactions were black.
  • In April, Rio state police killed 177 people, the second highest number recorded since tallying started more than 20 years ago.

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