New Zealand demonstrators perform Haka in solidarity with US George Floyd protesters

New Zealand demonstrators perform Haka in solidarity with US George Floyd protesters
© getty: A memorial left for George Floyd who died in custody on May 26, 2020 is viewed in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Protesters in New Zealand on Wednesday performed a haka, the ceremonial Maori dance, to express solidarity with Americans protesting the death of George Floyd.

The group performed the haka in front of the U.S. consulate in Auckland’s central business district Monday during Auckland’s Black Lives Matter demonstration.

Although the dance is associated with war, it has also historically been used in peacetime, to welcome guests or demonstrate unity.

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Thousands gathered in the city’s Aotea Square Monday, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “breached the rules” of the country’s coronavirus lockdown, which currently limits public gatherings to 100 people, according to 1News.

Assistant Commissioner Lauano Sue Schwalger said the demonstrators would not be prosecuted, saying police decided to take "an educative approach with organizers on this occasion".

"Police spoke to organizers of Monday's events to ensure they were aware of the guidelines for mass gatherings under Alert Level 2 restrictions," she said. "Organizers made an effort to ensure participants complied with the guidelines... It was an unfortunately reality, with the numbers of people who attended, that this quickly became impractical."

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“In these circumstances, it was probable that attempts to enforce Alert Level 2 would have caused tension in an otherwise peaceful protest, without being effective to enhance physical distancing, given the numbers in attendance,” she added.

Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in police custody last week after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for several minutes despite Floyd’s protests that he could not breathe. Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter before Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonOfficers in George Floyd's death appear in court, motion for separate trials Ex-Minneapolis officer involved in Floyd death asks judge to dismiss murder charge Over 50 current, former law enforcement professionals sign letter urging Congress to decriminalize marijuana MORE (D) announced Wednesday that the charges would be upgraded to second-degree murder with three other officers present charged as accessories.

Nearly every major U.S. city, as well as international cities like Auckland and London, have seen protests in recent days over the incident.