Boris Johnson calls Floyd’s death ‘inexcusable’
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called George Floyd’s death “inexcusable” in his first public comments on the incident, which has sparked protests across the U.S. and London.
Johnson said during the weekly “Prime Minister’s Questions” session in the House of Commons that Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody last week was “appalling” and that he supports people’s rights to “lawful” protests.
“What happened in the U.S. was appalling, it was inexcusable,” he said. “We all saw it on our screens, and I perfectly understand people’s right to protest what took place, though obviously I also believe that protest should take place in a lawful and reasonable way.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer asked the prime minister to show “the U.K.’s abhorrence” at President Trump’s response to the protests, but Johnson did not say whether he had raised concerns about the U.S. president.
When Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked Johnson to state that “black lives matter,” the prime minister responded: “Of course black lives matter, and I totally understand the anger, the grief that is felt not just in America but around the world and in our country as well.”
Johnson added that protests in the U.K. “should be carried out in accordance with our rules on social distancing.”
“Everybody’s lives matter. Black lives matter, but we must fight this virus as well,” he later said at Wednesday’s coronavirus press briefing.
When asked about Floyd at the briefing, Johnson said, “We mourn George Floyd, and I was appalled and sickened to see what happened to him.”
Bystander video footage showed former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and became unresponsive. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and he was fired from the department.
The Associated Press reported that thousands of people rallied in London on Sunday chanting “No justice! No peace!” and holding placards that said “How many more?” The demonstrators violated U.K. restrictions against crowds because of the pandemic, but police reportedly did not stop them.
The U.K. has confirmed 281,264 cases of coronavirus, leading to at least 39,811 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
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