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Boris Johnson has underlined to Donald Trump that “racist violence has no place in our society” as the US president faces mounting criticism over his response to the killing of George Floyd.
The PM was pressed by journalists at Wednesday’s Downing Street coronavirus briefing to speak to the president. It came as crowds of protesters bearing signs saying Black Lives Matter gathered outside.
Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in Minneapolis last week after a police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. His killing sparked protests that have spread across the US and beyond.
Trump, meanwhile, has responded to widespread anger by threatening to call in the military to quell protests.
Asked what message he would give to Trump, Johnson said: “We mourn George Floyd and I was appalled and sickened to see what happened to him and my message to president Trump, to everybody in the United States, from the UK is that I don’t think racism – and I’m sure it’s an opinion shared by an overwhelming majority of people round the world – racism and racist violence has no place in our society.”
Asked about the demonstrations outside, Johnson added: “All I would say is that I do think that people have a right to protest, to make their feelings known about injustices such as what happened to George Floyd.
“I would urge people to protest peacefully and in accordance with the rules on social distancing.”