Europe is “shocked and appalled” by the killing of George Floyd, whose death represents an abuse of power, the European Union’s top diplomat said Tuesday.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, called on all societies to resist the use of excessive force, and offered support for the right to hold peaceful protests. He also called for a de-escalation of tensions in the U.S.
“We here in Europe, like the people of the United States, we are shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd and I think that all societies must remain vigilant, against the excess of use of force and ensure that all such incidents are addressed safely, effectively and in full respect of the rule of law,” the foreign policy chief said at a press briefing.
“We have to be sure, everywhere, especially in societies which are based on the rule of law, democratic representation and respect for freedoms and liberties, that people who are in charge of taking care of the order are not using their capacities in the way that has been used in this very, very unhappy death of George Floyd. This is an abuse of power, and this has to be denounced and combat[ted] in the States and everywhere,” he added.
Protests have intensified across the U.S. and sparked solidarity protests around the world — in the U.K., Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Brazil — after a video captured Floyd’s death on May 25. Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis who had restrained him by putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, even as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.
An autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation within minutes.
Four Minneapolis police officers who were on the scene during Floyd’s arrest have been fired, including Derek Chauvin, who was filmed with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Chauvin was later charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Protesters have used Floyd’s last words, “I can’t breathe,” as a rallying cry against police brutality. The largely peaceful protests have been punctuated by acts of vandalism, leading to some violent confrontations with police and prompting President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts ‘Fox News Sunday’ invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John’s Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE on Monday to demand state governors “dominate” the streets with law enforcement.
Borrell on Tuesday condemned racism and called for a de-escalation of tensions.
“We trust in the ability of the Americans to come together to heal as a nation and to address these important issues during this difficult time. Allow me to repeat that all lives matter. Black lives also matter,” Borrell said.
The phrase “all lives matter” has been promoted by critics and opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement. It is seen as discrediting concerns over racial disparities and injustices against the African American community.
A spokesperson for Borrell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.