In Cities Across the Globe, 'We Can't Breathe' Becomes Rallying Call

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In Cities Across the Globe, 'We Can't Breathe' Becomes Rallying Call

Hundreds stage die-in at London shopping center as 'Black Lives Matter' mobilizations continue to build across the United States and world

Wednesday's die-in at a west London shopping center is one of many direct actions to sweep the globe under the banner 'Black Lives Matter.' (Photo: Areeb Ullah)

Eric Garner's dying words of "I can't breathe" continue to echo around the world.

Hundreds of people chanted this last plea as they staged a die-in at a west London mall on Wednesday night, in solidarity with the loved ones of Garner and the mass mobilizations for racial justice that continue to build across the United States.

Bearing placards that read "Black Lives Matter," protesters lay down inside and outside a Westfield shopping center in Shepherd's Bush. The civil disobedience brought much of the commercial center to a halt before 76 people were arrested. Many of those detained, including some who were not even participants in the demonstration, were held overnight, organizers report.

"Our protest was non-violent and was shut down because it was effective," reads a Thursday joint statement from organizers with the groups London Black Revs, National Union of Students Black Students' Campaign, and London Campaign against Police and State Violence. "The protesters have made it clear that the issue of police impunity to kill people of African descent is strongly felt and relevant here in the UK."

The action was billed as a response to the killing by choking of Garner, a 43-year-old unarmed black man and father of six, at the hands of a white police officer—whose non-indictment for the killing fueled public outrage. However, organizers also called for solidarity with all "black lives ended by police officers" on both sides of the Atlantic—from Mike Brown to Tamir Rice to Joy Gardner.

In particular, organizers note, "Black trans women are murdered and brutalized without justice, facing state violence on the streets and within the prison industrial complex." They declare, "In this time of great pain in the Black community, we must stand in solidarity with all of our siblings."

The direct action is one of many across the United States and world calling for racial justice and an end to police killings and vigilante violence targeting black people. From Paris, France to Tokyo, Japan to Delhi, India, public outrage over racism has gone global. At the People's Climate March on Wednesday in Lima, Peru, U.S.-based delegates with the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance joined the tens-of-thousands-strong demonstration with a banner declaring "Black Lives Matter."

Meanwhile, protests and large-scale acts of civil disobedience continue to build across the United States, from Berkeley and Oakland to New York to Lewiston, Maine.

"The world needs you," Millennial Activists United, a youth-led, grassroots coalition in the St. Louis area, declared in a statement recently posted to their website. "Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by a police officer or vigilante. They are militarizing our police, America is not standing on the side of accountability and justice and we must change that. Which side are YOU on?"

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