Senior EU political figures condemn George Floyd killing

Four officers have now been charged in connection with the death of the 46-year-old American who died of asphyxia during his arrest by police in Minneapolis.
Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

08 Jun 2020

The EU's foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell led the EU's condemnation, calling the death an “abuse of power” and urged a de-escalation of tensions after the killing sparked protests across the world.

He said, "We are shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the death was “unacceptable" while MEPs have also joined the chorus of criticism, with Irish MEP Barry Andrews calling for the US ambassador in Ireland to be summoned over the “behaviour” of President Donald Trump.


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The Fianna Fáil member said Ireland should use the close ties between the countries to outline concerns about the US President.

“The President of the United States is using language which is incendiary, which is deepening the tensions, deepening the divisions in the United States, talking about ‘if looting starts, shooting starts’, using the bible as a prop and the methods that he's using: teargas against peaceful protesters, threatening to use active duty troops against American citizens and attacking journalists.”

“The President of the United States is using language which is incendiary, which is deepening the tensions, deepening the divisions in the United States” Barry Andrews MEP 

More condemnation came from S&D vice-president for foreign affairs, Kati Piri, who said she was “deeply shocked” by the killing and the “rise of the white supremacist movement in the US that is instigating racial clashes.”

“We stand side by side with the peaceful protestors who are rightly angered by the institutional racism that generations of African Americans are faced with on a daily basis.”

“In the past, the US judiciary had in many cases not prosecuted hate crimes committed by white perpetrators against people of colour. We demand that all officers involved in Floyd’s death face due legal process and are held accountable.”

“Hate speech and racism have no place anywhere - neither in Europe, nor the United States. In times of so much pain and anger, we expect the US President to listen to the demands of peaceful protestors. The use of force against journalists and innocent citizens has no place in a liberal democracy.”

“We stand side by side with the peaceful protestors who are rightly angered by the institutional racism that generations of African Americans are faced with on a daily basis” Kati Piri MEP

“We also hear the calls of ethnic minorities in Europe who face exclusion and racism. We therefore ask the European Commission to swiftly develop an EU framework for national strategies to combat racism, as the European Parliament called for in last year’s resolution on the fundamental rights of people of African descent.”

Piri’s comments were echoed by Croatian MEP Tonino Picula, Parliament’s standing rapporteur on the US who said, “The EU must not and cannot give up on cooperating with the United States, nor can it give up fighting for a world in which common problems are solved jointly.”

“Following the latest tragic events and protests across the United States with great concern, we call on Trump's administration to engage in an open and peaceful dialogue with legitimate protesters and acknowledge their requests for equality.”

He continued, “The common principles that the EU and the US shared in building peace and prosperity for our nations over the past seventy years, such as democracy, the rule of law and minority rights, should not be promoted only in foreign policy, but upheld in all domestic policies.”

“Faced with such a tragedy, it is impossible to remain silent, all the more as this killing is unfortunately not an isolated case” Luca Jahier, EESC President

Luca Jahier, President of the EESC, commented, “Faced with such a tragedy, it is impossible to remain silent, all the more as this killing is unfortunately not an isolated case. In addition to numerous other examples of discrimination against minorities, the newspapers regularly report racist crimes which affect in particular black Americans.”

“Racism and discrimination are venoms which slowly poison our societies from within, in the USA, in Europe and everywhere else. We are conscious that many Member States face similar struggles - racism and discrimination have a dangerous presence in our societies as well.”

Meanwhile, 6,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Belgian rail operator SNCB not to remove a piece of graffiti honouring Floyd. Images of the graffiti went viral over the weekend, showing a whole train carriage covered in black paint with white lettering that reads: “Please, I can't breathe” - the last words Floyd gasped as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

The petition has asked the SNCB to keep the graffiti in place for at least the next 100 days.

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