Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a moment at the end of his daily address on Friday morning and issued a statement in regard to violent racially-charged protests in Minnesota that have been triggered by the death of George Floyd.
“Many Canadians of diverse backgrounds are watching, like all Canadians are, the news out of the United States with shock and with horror,” said Trudeau during his press conference from outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa. “Anti-Black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada. And I know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias, and anti-Black racism every single day.”
On May 26, a graphic video was posted to Facebook that showed an unarmed Floyd having his neck knelt on by a white Minneapolis police officer while he was being arrested. In the video, it appears that the 46-year old is struggling for oxygen.
“Please, I cannot breathe,” can be heard from Floyd in the video, which was recorded by a bystander and has since gone viral.
Floyd was taken to hospital following the police incident where he was pronounced deceased.
According to reports, the police were arresting Floyd because he allegedly tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a corner store. The four Minneapolis officers involved have since been fired – and the one who put his knee on Floyd’s neck has since been charged with 3rd-degree murder – but the incident spurred unrest in the city and across the country.
For three straight days, violent protests filled with arson, looting and vandalism have continued unabated throughout Minnesota.
— CNN (@CNN) May 29, 2020
Things seemed to get only more dramatic earlier Friday morning with the arrest of CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his crew, all of it playing out on live TV.
Adding to the escalating situation, Donald Trump promised overnight to take a hard line against the “thugs” who were wreaking havoc, tweeting – “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted – Twitter responded with the unprecedented step of censoring the president of the United States, blocking, but not deleting, a tweet the social media platform said was “glorifying violence.”
….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
The ongoing action has caught the world’s attention amid the current COVID-19 pandemic and that prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do something he rarely does: comment publicly on another country’s domestic affairs.
“I call on all Canadians, whether it’s anti-Black racism or anti-Asian racism, or racism and discrimination of any type, to stand together in solidarity; to be there for each other, and know just how deeply people are being affected by what we’ve seen on the news these past few days,” added Trudeau.
“We need as a society to stand together, stand up against discrimination, be there for each other in respect but also understand that we have work to do as well in Canada.”
Trudeau’s statement comes a day after a black woman in Toronto fell from the 24th-floor balcony of an apartment building and her family is alleging police were involved.
It also comes during a global health crisis that has seen a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes and racism as well.