Prague has witnessed its biggest public gathering in months after several hundred people marched through the city’s medieval streets demonstrating against racism and the killing of George Floyd.
Placard-carrying protesters chanting slogans including “Black Lives Matter” and “Goerge Floyd, say his name” congregated in the Czech capital’s landmark Old Town Square before marching to the US embassy in the Mala Strana neighbourhood.
Police officers wearing face-masks against the spread of Covid-19 escorted the marchers across the 600-year-old Charles Bridge, showing no reaction as demonstrators – many also wearing masks – shouted: “No justice, no peace. Fuck the police.”
Most of those present were white, including many foreign expatriates. The Czech Republic has a small ethnic minority population.
Saturday’s event – organised by a group called For Human Decency – had initially been cancelled amid continuing concerns about coronavirus but eventually went ahead following assurances about precautionary measures.
It was the first demonstration staged in Prague since the pandemic prompted the authorities to declare a state of emergency and impose a nationwide lockdown in March.
Public events of up to 300 people have been allowed since 22 May, as the lockdown has eased, with the requirement to wear masks outdoors lifted three days later. Gatherings of up to 500 will be permitted from Monday 8 June.
Several European cities have seen mass gatherings in sympathy with similar protests in the US following the death of Floyd, an African-American man who died in Minneapolis on 25 May after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
But Saturday appeared to mark the first time capitals of former communist countries had seen such events, with the exception of Berlin, which was divided between the communist east and capitalist west during the Cold War. A similar demonstration was reported on Saturday in Warsaw.
Last week, a protest was staged outside the US consulate in the Polish city of Krakow, where gatherers lit candles.
On Sunday, demonstrators reportedly gathered outside the US embassy in Budapest for what was described as “an anti-racism solidarity” protest.