Thousands in Europe decry racial injustice, police violence

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Protesters take part in a demonstration on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Hyde Park, London, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. Protests have taken place across America and internationally, after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd's neck while the handcuffed black man called out that he couldn't breathe. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with murder. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON – Thousands of people demonstrated in London on Wednesday against police violence and racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has set off days of unrest in the United States.

In Athens, police fired tear gas to disperse youths who threw firebombs and stones at them outside the U.S. Embassy toward the end of an otherwise peaceful protest by about 4,000 people. No injuries or arrests were reported.

The London demonstration began in Hyde Park, with protesters chanting “Black lives matter,” before many of them later marched through the streets, blocking traffic.

Some of them converged on Parliament and the nearby Downing Street office of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A few scuffles erupted between protesters and police outside the street's heavy metal gates.

Inside, Johnson told a news conference that he was “appalled and sickened” by Floyd's death on May 25 when a white Minneapolis officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee on the handcuffed black man’s neck for several minutes.

Earlier, “Star Wars” actor John Boyega, who was born in Britain to Nigerian parents and grew up in south London's Peckham neighborhood, pleaded tearfully for demonstrators to stay peaceful.

“Because they want us to mess up, they want us to be disorganized, but not today,” he said.

Boyega recalled the case of Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year-old black man from southeast London who was stabbed to death in 1993 as he waited for a bus. The case against his attackers collapsed in 1996, and a government report cited institutional racism by the London police force as a key factor in its failure to thoroughly investigate the killing.