Trudeau addresses Minneapolis protests, says Canadians watching 'with shock and with horror'


OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday weighed in on the escalating protests in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died following an encounter with police.

Trudeau took a moment at the end of his daily press briefing to acknowledge the situation south of the border where violent demonstrations wage for a third day in recognition of police brutality against black Americans.

"Many Canadians of diverse backgrounds are watching like all Canadians are, the news out of the United States, with shock and with horror. Anti-black racism, racism is real. It’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada," he said.

Floyd, arrested for alleged forgery, was pinned down by an officer’s knee and later died in police custody. The arrest was captured on video.

Protesters blocking traffic, smashing vehicles and setting fire to buildings have been met by police dressed in riot gear, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. The National Guard has also moved in to Minneapolis.

Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and New York have also seen large groups amass in protest of Floyd’s death.

Four officers involved in the arrest have been fired by the Minneapolis Police Department and a federal investigation is underway to determine whether criminal charges should be laid. The officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck was taken into custody on Friday.

Trudeau called on Canadians to "stand together" and "stand up against" anti-black racism.

"We have work to do as well in Canada in our systems that we need to work forward on and I call on all Canadians, whether it’s anti-black racism or anti-Asian racism or racism and discrimination of any time, to stand together in solidarity," he said.

During the federal election campaign last fall, news broke that the prime minster had donned blackface and brownface in several occasions in his past, including as a teacher. He has since apologized, acknowledging his behaviour was “racist,” and has said he has lots of learning to do about his own white privilege.


U.S. President Donald Trump weighed in on the situation on Twitter saying "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right."

In another tweet, Trump calls the demonstrators "thugs" and said he spoke with Governor Tim Walz about military support.

"…Told him that the military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control, but when the looting starts, the shooting starts," the tweet read.

The post prompted a warning from Twitter that the message violated the social media platform’s rules for “glorifying violence.” It has remained accessible after being deemed in the public’s interest.

Mayor Frey – who’s been vocally outraged by the incident and has spoken out against pervasive racism in American society – responded to the president’s tweet in a subsequent press conference, visibly angry.