Policeman Charged In Death Of George Floyd Released On Bail

These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP
These images taken on May 25, 2020, from a video courtesy of Darnella Frazier via Facebook, shows Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin during the arrest of George Floyd. Darnella Frazier / Facebook/Darnella Frazier / AFP

 

The police officer charged with killing George Floyd, the African American whose death sparked a mass protest movement, was released from a Minnesota jail on Wednesday on $1 million bail.

Derek Chauvin, who was video recorded pressing his knee to handcuffed Floyd’s neck during an arrest in May until Floyd went limp, is charged with second and third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office posted a notice of his release after more than four months in jail, after Chauvin was able to post the hefty bond.

The 44-year-old former Minneapolis police officer, who has since been sacked, is to face trial in March 2021 along with three other now ex-police officers over Floyd’s death, which triggered the largest US anti-racism movement since the 1960s.

The other three, Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who either stood by or participated holding Floyd down when he was killed, are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

Floyd’s death on May 25 became a symbol of what many say is systemic racism and abuse of African Americans by police, and sparked protests across the country that continue under the banner of “Black Lives Matter.”

Prosecutors called the death, which came after Floyd was detained for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, “vicious, brutal, and dehumanizing.”

All four defendants say the decision to restrain Floyd was reasonably justified, and have also cited coroner evidence that drugs found in his system may have been the primary cause of death.

The officers were all fired one day after Floyd’s death, reflecting the growing seriousness with which US cities are beginning to take police abuse allegations.

 

 

-AFP

 

 

 

Policeman Charged Over Breonna Taylor Shooting

“No amount of money will bring back Breonna Taylor,” the group said.

 

A Louisville police officer was charged Wednesday with three counts of “wanton endangerment” in connection with the shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman whose name has become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Judge Annie O’Connell announced the charges brought by a grand jury against Detective Brett Hankison, one of three police officers involved in the fatal shooting in March.

No charges were filed against the other two officers and the grand jury findings immediately sparked street protests in Louisville, the scene of weeks of anti-racism demonstrations.

Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Taylor family, condemned the grand jury decision.

“3 counts of Wanton Endangerment in 1st Degree for bullets that went into other apartments but NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor,” Crump said on Twitter. “This is outrageous and offensive!”

The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the grand jury charges as “not accountability and not close to justice.”

“This is the manifestation of what the millions of people who have taken to the streets to protest police violence already know: Modern policing and our criminal legal system are rotten to the core,” the ACLU said.

Hankison, who has been fired from the police department, was not charged for shooting Taylor but for shots that he fired into adjoining apartments, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said.

“I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges reported today,” Cameron said. “Every person has an idea of what they think justice is.”

‘They did knock’

Taylor, an emergency room technician, was shot dead in her apartment when three plainclothes police officers turned up at her door to execute a search warrant.

Cameron said reports that the officers had executed a “no-knock” search warrant were incorrect and they had announced their presence.

“They did knock and announce,” he said. “That information was corroborated by another witness.”

Taylor’s boyfriend, who was in bed with her, grabbed a gun and exchanged fire with the officers. He later said he thought they were criminals.

The officers, who had not activated their body cameras as required, shot Taylor multiple times, killing her. A police sergeant was wounded.

Cameron said Hankison had not fired the fatal shoots and the two other officers who opened fire had done so in self-defense.

He said Hankison could face five years in prison for each count of “wanton endangerment” if convicted.

The city of Louisville settled a wrongful death suit with Taylor’s family for $12 million last week.

A state of emergency has been declared by the mayor of the city, which has a population of 600,000, with much of downtown closed to traffic.

Some downtown business owners boarded up their shops in anticipation of unrest sparked by the grand jury decision.

Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder said the authorities would not tolerate any “violence or destruction of property.”

“We are prepared to meet any challenge we may face,” Schroeder said, calling for demonstrators to protest “peacefully and lawfully.”

The civil settlement with Taylor’s family reflected the public pressure and emotion surrounding her death, which came about two months before that of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Floyd’s death triggered protests across the US against racial injustice and police brutality.

 

 

 

-AFP

Family Of US Police Shooting Victim Settles Civil Case For $12mn

“No amount of money will bring back Breonna Taylor,” the group said.

 

Relatives of Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed in a police shooting in her own home, announced Tuesday they have settled their wrongful death suit with the US city of Louisville for $12 million, as well as promises of local law enforcement reforms.

The civil settlement was substantial and relatively quick, reflecting the public pressure and emotion surrounding the case of the 26-year-old, which became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

After Taylor’s death on March 13, another black citizen, George Floyd, died on May 25 in Minneapolis while a police officer knelt on his neck, sparking protests across the country against racism and police brutality.

Taylor family attorney Ben Crump called the $12 million settlement “historic” but said the “comprehensive reform” plan was “equally important.”

Authorities in Louisville and the state of Kentucky pledged to implement measures that might head off incidents similar to the botched raid in which Taylor was killed.

Those include more oversight from commanding officers about search warrants, the hiring of a team of social workers, and encouraging officers to do community service.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the city “is not waiting to move ahead with needed reforming to prevent the tragedy like this from ever happening again.”

Taylor was killed when three plainclothes police officers executing a “no knock” search warrant burst into her apartment late at night.

Taylor’s boyfriend, who was in bed with her, grabbed a gun and exchanged fire with the officers. He later said he thought they were criminals.

The officers, who had not activated their body cameras as required, shot Taylor eight times, killing her. A police sergeant was also wounded.

The agreement signals an end to the civil proceedings but not to the criminal investigation, which has yet to lead to any charges, six months after Taylor’s death.

The three said they had announced themselves before entering. They later filed an after-action report that was found to be rife with errors.

The raid was carried out simultaneously with a handful of others targeting Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, an alleged narcotics dealer. But Taylor had broken up with him months before.

“As significant as today is, it’s only the beginning of getting full justice for Breonna,” said her mother, Tamika Palmer.

“It’s time to move forward with the criminal charges.”

No criminal charges yet
Taylor’s family filed a civil complaint in April seeking redress, claiming that the search warrant was in error and that the officers had fired blindly and without due diligence.

One of the three officers, Brett Hankison, has since been fired, and the other two were suspended. The city has also banned “no knock” warrants.

The case has sparked international outrage, and earned celebrity attention.

Oprah Winfrey paid for billboards in Kentucky demanding justice for Taylor. US Open champion Naomi Osaka wore a face mask bearing Taylor’s name during her run for the title.

Formula One star Lewis Hamilton wore a t-shirt that read “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor” on the podium at Sunday’s Tuscan Grand Prix.

A portrait of Taylor graced the cover of Vanity Fair magazine’s September issue.

But so far, none of the officers has been charged — a fact that has fueled daily anti-racism protests in Louisville for weeks.

Armed militia members, claiming to want to prevent acts of vandalism, have also been present, notably on the sidelines of the Kentucky Derby on September 5.

Death Of Black Teen In US Juvenile Facility Sparks Outrage

People raise their fists during a rally as part of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, on Place de la Republique in Paris on June 13, 2020. – A wave of global protests in the wake of US George Floyd’s fatal arrest magnified attention on the 2016 death in French police custody of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old black man, and renewed controversy over claims of racism and brutality within the force. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

A viral video showing a black teen losing consciousness while being choked by staff members of a juvenile delinquency center sparked outrage Wednesday, as anti-racism protests continue to rage across the United States.

Cornelius Fredericks, 16, died May 1, two days after being pinned to the ground by staff at Lakeside Academy — a residential treatment for young adults in Kalamazoo, Michigan — for having thrown a sandwich at another boy in the cafeteria.

In the video, captured by surveillance cameras, Fredericks throws the sandwich and then is thrown to the ground by several men, who use their weight to subdue him.

 

Fredericks throws the sandwich and then is thrown to the ground by several men.
Fredericks throws the sandwich and then is thrown to the ground by several men.

 

After 10 minutes, Fredericks appears unconscious. Staff members attempted CPR before calling for medical help.

His death recalls that of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25 during an arrest that was filmed and spread on social media.

Floyd’s death has unleashed a massive wave of anger and protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

The “horrific video” of Fredericks’s death reveals a “culture of fear and abuse” at Lakeside Academy, where “suffocation is a regular practice… as a form of discipline,” the lawyer for Fredericks’s family, Geoffrey Fieger, said Tuesday while making the video public.

Fredericks “was executed on April 29 for the crime of throwing a sandwich,” Fieger said. The seven staff members who pinned him down “deprived him of oxygen and his brain suffered irreversible damage.”

Two of instructors and one nurse were charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse.

In June, Fieger filed civil lawsuits against the involved staff members and the private company that runs the Lakeside facility, Sequel Youth and Family Services, which has a contract with the state of Michigan.

“Cornelius’s scream of ‘I can’t breathe’ was not enough to get the staff members to stop the excessive restraint,” Fieger wrote in the lawsuit.

“The excessive use of restraints and the lack of concern for Cornelius’s life draw an eerily similar comparison to that of George Floyd’s death,” he added in the document.

Fieger said Tuesday that the operating company had proposed an out-of-court settlement of less than $1 million in compensation to Fredericks’s family.

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer in June denounced Fredericks’s “senseless” and “intolerable” death, and announced that she was stopping all contracts with Sequel Youth and Family Services in the state.

One Dead In Shooting At US ‘Black Lives Matter’ Rally

In this file photo taken on June 01, 2020 NYPD police officers watch demonstrators in Times Square during a "Black Lives Matter" protest. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP
In this file photo taken on June 01, 2020 NYPD police officers watch demonstrators in Times Square during a “Black Lives Matter” protest. TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP

 

One person was killed and another wounded in a shooting at a “Black Lives Matter” rally in the US state of Kentucky, police said.

The incident Saturday took place at Jefferson Square Park in the center of Louisville where protestors have gathered for weeks over the killing of African American woman Breonna Taylor.

Her death in March helped fuel a campaign against racism and police brutality in the United States that has since spread across the globe.

Louisville Metro Police Department said officers were called to the park at around 9:00 pm.

“Calls then came in that Sheriff’s Department personnel were in the park performing life-saving measures on a male who eventually died at the scene,” the department said on Twitter.

Soon after another person was shot across the street at the city’s Hall of Justice, police added.

It was unclear if there was more than one shooter and authorities have yet to release any details of the victims.

Louisville mayor Greg Fischer said he was “deeply saddened by the violence.”

Before the shooting, Fischer had urged counter-protesters to stay away from the park, after local newspaper Louisville Courier Journal reported that “armed patriot groups” were planning on confronting the demonstrators.

Louisville has seen especially passionate Black Lives Matter protests due to the police killing Taylor in her own apartment.

The 26-year-old emergency room technician was shot dead after police barged into her home, alleging that drug dealers had used the apartment to receive packages.

The case helped trigger fresh waves of anger in the United States over racial injustice and police brutality.

Those protests expanded dramatically after the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

AFP

Warner Records Signs 12-Year-Old ‘Black Lives Matter’ Protest Singer

Keedron Bryant
File: Keedron Bryant. Photo: Instagram/keedronbryant

 

A 12-year-old whose song protesting police killings of African Americans in the US went viral has been signed by Warner Records, his producer said on Instagram Thursday.

Keedron Bryant’s song I Just Wanna Live, about his fears growing up as a black man in America, will be released on Friday, which is the Juneteenth holiday marking the end of slavery in the US.

Bryant first posted the acapella gospel song on his Instagram account on May 26, the day after another African American, George Floyd, was killed by a white policeman in the city of Minneapolis.

Floyd’s death — one in a long line of black people killed by white law enforcement — ignited mass Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and a national reckoning on racism in America, both in the past and today.

“Every day I’m being hunted as prey. My people don’t want no trouble,” Bryant sings.

The original post has been liked well over three million times, and drawn praise from Barack Obama to Katy Perry.

It also caught the attention of producer Dem Jointz, who reportedly added music.

Dem Jointz said in an Instagram post Thursday that he was “Thankful” to share the song alongside the Bryant family and Warner Records.

The US music giant will reportedly donate proceeds from the song to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Atlanta Policeman To Face Murder Charges For Shooting Black Man

 

An Atlanta police officer will face felony murder charges for the death of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, who was shot in the back as he fled the officer, District Attorney Paul Howard announced Wednesday.

Howard said Garrett Rolfe had no justification for shooting Brooks, and aggravated the case by kicking Brook’s body as he lay on the ground bleeding.

“We concluded that, at the time that Mr Brooks was shot, he did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to the officers,” Howard said.

100 Years On, US State Pardons Black Man Accused Of Rape Tied To Lynching

People raise their fists during a rally as part of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, on Place de la Republique in Paris on June 13, 2020. – A wave of global protests in the wake of US George Floyd’s fatal arrest magnified attention on the 2016 death in French police custody of Adama Traore, a 24-year-old black man, and renewed controversy over claims of racism and brutality within the force. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

On June 15, 1920, three African-Americans were lynched in Duluth, Minnesota, accused without proof of raping a white woman. 

One hundred years later, the northern US state on Friday pardoned another black man convicted of the crime, which he repeatedly denied committing.

Max Mason, who died in 1942, has become the first person to benefit from a posthumous pardon in Minnesota, a potent symbolic action at a time when Americans are confronting the roots of a racism that still taints substantial portions of society.

The pardon request was filed well before the May 25 death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

The killing, caught on video, triggered coast-to-coast protests, making the Mason pardon timely.

“100 years late, overdue justice has been done,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said on Twitter.

“The last weeks in MN have shown us we have a need for a better quality of justice. A pardon for Max Mason is another long-delayed step toward it.”

On June 14 of 1920, young white woman Irene Tusken and a male friend attended the circus in Duluth. The next day, the man told his father they had been attacked by black circus troupe members and that Tusken was raped.

Police rounded up and interrogated several black men including Mason, but the couple was unable to identify anyone as one of the attackers.

According to court documents, a doctor examined the woman but could find no evidence of assault.

Mason was released, and he rejoined the traveling circus as it departed Duluth. But police re-arrested him along with several other men.

Later that night, an angry mob broke into the police station and grabbed three men, dragging them through the streets before hanging them in front of thousands of people.

Duluth is the home town of famed folk singer Bob Dylan, whose 1965 song “Desolation Row” was written in part about the crime.

The city has apologized for the lynching and in 2003 erected a memorial to the three victims.

Mason escaped the fate of those three men. But he was sentenced to 30 years in prison, in part because it was learned that he and Tusken were both infected with gonorrhea, a common venereal disease.

“If he had been a white man, I am rather doubtful if he would have been convicted,” county attorney Mason Forbes said in 1923 pardon request.

-AFP

British Rapper Stormzy Pledges £10 million For Black Empowerment

British grime and hip-hop artist Stormzy poses on the red carpet on arrival for the BRIT Awards 2020 in London on February 18, 2020. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

British rapper Stormzy has pledged to donate £10 million over ten years to fight racial inequality and black empowerment.

The money will go to UK organisations, charities, and movements fighting for black justice.

“The uncomfortable truth that our country fails to recognise and admit is that black people in the UK have been at a constant disadvantage in every aspect of life – simply due to the colour of our skin,” said Stormzy, whose real name is Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr.

The rapper, who collaborated with Burna Boy and Ed Sheeran on the hit song Own It in 2019, said people have often dismissed the idea of racism in Britain because of his success in the country.

READ ALSO: ‘Stop The Pain’: George Floyd’s Brother Tells US Lawmakers

“There are millions of us,” he continued.

“We are not far and few. We have to fight against the odds of a racist system stacked against us and designed for us to fail from before we are even born.

“Black people have been playing on an uneven field for far too long and this pledge is a continuation in the fight to finally try and even it.”

Stormzy’s donation comes as a wave of anti-racism protests inspired by the killing of George Floyd spread across the US, and parts of the UK and Europe.

In 2018, the rapper announced a scholarship that would pay tuition fees and a maintenance grant of up to four years for two undergraduate students in Cambridge and another two in 2019.

UK PM Johnson Says Will Not Ignore Anger Over Racial Injustice

In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas' Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP
In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020 A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged the “cold reality” behind angry protests against racial injustice, but warned he would not tolerate violence or the breaking of coronavirus distancing laws.

Demonstrations have broken out across Britain following the death of George Floyd in the United States, most of them peaceful, although clashes in London left 35 police officers hurt.

“We simply cannot ignore the depth of emotion that has been triggered by that spectacle of a black man losing his life at the hands of the police,” Johnson said in a statement late Monday.

“In this country and around the world his dying words — I can’t breathe — have awakened an anger and a widespread and incontrovertible, undeniable feeling of injustice, a feeling that people from black and minority ethnic groups do face discrimination: in education, in employment, in the application of the criminal law.

“And we who lead and who govern simply can’t ignore those feelings because in too many cases, I am afraid, they will be founded on a cold reality.”

He continued: “And so I say yes, you are right, we are all right, to say Black Lives Matter.

READ ALSO: Cyprus Welcomes First Tourist Flights Since March

“And to all those who have chosen to protest peacefully and who have insisted on social distancing, I say, yes of course I hear you, and I understand.”

He said while Britain had made “huge strides… there is so much more to do — in eradicating prejudice, and creating opportunity, and the government I lead is committed to that effort.”

However, he warned the country was “in a time of national trial” as it battled the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 40,000 people in Britain.

– ‘Bygone era’ –

“I will not support those who flout the rules on social distancing,” he said.

“And no, I will not support or indulge those who break the law, or attack the police, or desecrate public monuments.”

London protesters defaced the statue of World War II leader Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, and in Bristol, southwest England, crowds pulled down a statue of a notorious local slave trader.

“We have a democracy in this country. If you want to change the urban landscape, you can stand for election, or vote for someone who will,” Johnson said.

London mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday announced a review of the capital’s landmarks, including statues and road names, many of which he said “reflect a bygone era”.

“We must ensure that we celebrate the achievements and diversity of all in our city, and that we commemorate those who have made London what it is — that includes questioning which legacies are being celebrated,” he said.

AFP

Bayern Close On Title As Bundesliga Steps Up Racism Protests

Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski (C) heads to score his team’s fourth goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Bayern Munich on June 6, 2020 in Leverkusen, western Germany. Matthias Hangst / POOL / AFP

 

Bundesliga players wore black armbands and took the knee in displays of support for the Black Lives Matter protests on Saturday, as Bayern Munich kept title rivals Borussia Dortmund at bay with a ninth successive win.

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski scored his 30th league goal of the season as Bayern came from behind to claim a 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen, a win which kept them seven points ahead of second-placed Dortmund, who beat Hertha Berlin 1-0.

After Lucas Alario secured an early lead for the home side, Bayern struck twice in quick succession just before half-time to turn the game in their favour after Kingsley Coman’s equaliser.

A mistake from Moussa Diaby allowed Coman to curl in the equaliser, before a fizzing shot from Leon Goretzka and an elegant lob from Serge Gnabry saw Bayern take a two-goal lead into the break.

“We didn’t start well, but I think it’s something which really distinguishes us at the moment, that we are able to fight our way back into games,” Goretzka told Sky.

Lewandowski sealed the win in the second half, equalling his most prolific Bundesliga season, although Leverkusen teenager Florian Wirtz struck late on to become the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever scorer at just 17 years and 34 days.

READ ALSO: Man City Face Critical Appeal Against Two-Season European Ban

“We already knew he was a huge talent,” said Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz of the teenager, who beat the record set by Nuri Sahin for Borussia Dortmund in November 2005 by 48 days.

As thousands of protesters assembled in city centres across Germany, both of the country’s top two clubs also used Saturday’s games to make statements against police brutality and racism.

Dortmund players warmed up in T-shirts bearing messages of solidarity such as “no justice, no peace”, before taking the knee in the centre circle with their Hertha colleagues for a moment’s silence before kick-off.

Bayern players, meanwhile, wore black “Black Lives Matter” armbands during their rampant win over Leverkusen.

“As players, we always have the same message — we are tolerant, we are open, we are open to the world,” Bayern captain Manuel Neuer told Sky.

– Can keeps Dortmund hopes alive? –

Dortmund battled to a 1-0 home win over Hertha thanks to a second-half strike from Emre Can.

England winger Jadon Sancho, who was among the first Bundesliga players to lend his voice to the protests last weekend, missed from close range just after the break before setting up Can with a deft chip over the back line on 57 minutes.

A late equaliser from Christian Strohdiek saw bottom-of-the-table Paderborn snatch a 1-1 draw away to RB Leipzig.

Timo Werner set up Patrik Schick on 27 minutes to give Leipzig the lead, but they were forced to defend it with 10 men after Dayot Upamecano was booked twice in the first half.

Strohdiek’s last-minute strike gave Paderborn their fourth draw in five games, though Steffen Baumgart’s side remain eight points off Fortuna Duesseldorf, who occupy the relegation play-off place.

Duesseldorf themselves missed the chance to move towards safety, as they battled to a dramatic 2-2 draw against 10-man Hoffenheim.

A headed opener from Rouwen Hennings and a red card for Hoffenheim’s Benjamin Huebner put the home side in pole position.

However, the visitors struck back with goals from Munas Dabbur and Steven Zuber before Hennings saved a point with a late penalty.

Uwe Roesler’s side remain three points adrift of safety in the relegation play-off place, after goals from Moussa Niakhate and Pierre Kunde Malong gave fellow strugglers Mainz a rare win over local rivals Eintracht Frankfurt.

Having sealed a crucial win with his 77th-minute strike, Cameroon international Kunde also joined the protests, taking a knee in place of a celebration.

“I think it’s good. It isn’t a political statement, it’s just a position, and these are values that we have. For me, there is no other possible position to take,” said Mainz sporting director Rouven Schroeder.

str/jc/dj

Black Boy Falls From Ninth Story Building In Brazil, Sparks Racism Protest

A demonstrator holds a sign reading "Black Lives Matter" in demand of justice for the death of five-year-old Miguel Otavio Santana da Silva, the son of a black maid who on June 2 fell from the ninth floor of a building while under the watch of his mother's white employer, in Recife, Pernambuco State, in northeastern Brazil, on June 5, 2020.  Leo Malafaia / AFP
A demonstrator holds a sign reading “Black Lives Matter” in demand of justice for the death of five-year-old Miguel Otavio Santana da Silva, the son of a black maid who on June 2 fell from the ninth floor of a building while under the watch of his mother’s white employer, in Recife, Pernambuco State, in northeastern Brazil, on June 5, 2020. Leo Malafaia / AFP

 

Hundreds of Brazilians marched Friday over the death of a black boy whose mother, a maid, had entrusted him to her white employer, in an echo of the protests racking the United States.

Five-year-old Miguel da Silva died Tuesday when he fell from the ninth story of the highrise where his mother worked in the city of Recife.

She had left him in the care of the white woman she worked for while she took the family dog for a walk.

Security camera footage played on Brazilian TV shows the white employer interacting with the boy as he stands inside the service elevator, then pushing the button for the top floor and leaving him inside alone.

Media reports said after exiting the elevator the boy climbed through a window, up a balcony railing and fell to his death.

The case triggered a Brazilian take on the protests sweeping the United States over racism and police brutality.

“Vidas negras importam” — “Black lives matter” — said signs carried by protesters in Recife, the capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco.

“It’s important to be at this protest, because Miguel’s life represents the reality of lots of other black kids, the children of domestic workers. He could have been any one of us,” said protester Nathalia Ferreira.

Wearing face masks against the coronavirus pandemic and T-shirts with the boy’s picture, the protesters marched from the court of justice to the building where he died.

“We are worried this crime will be taken lightly and left unpunished. It is important that justice be done,” said Monica Oliveira of the Pernambuco Black Women’s Network.

As in the United States, race relations are fraught in Brazil, the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery.

Blacks make up 56 percent of Brazil’s population, but earn about half as much as whites on average, have lower life expectancy and according to activists face deeply ingrained discrimination.