Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an appearance at an anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill here, showing up unannounced to hear speeches from activists demanding fairer treatment from police for minorities.
Trudeau joined the large crowd on Friday and knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds – which is how long a Minneapolis police officer held down African-American man George Floyd with his knee on his neck before he died, reports CBC News.
The African-American man died while in police custody on May 25, while all four officers at the scene now face charges.
Trudeau tried to blend into the crowd on Friday, but TV cameras and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police security detail made his presence known to the roughly 4,000 activists gathered around the Centennial Flame on the lawn at Parliament Hill.
Trudeau told his security detail to stop pushing people as he made his way closer to the stage where the speakers were addressing the crowd.
The Prime Minister initially was met with chants of “Stand up to Trump” and “Go away” from some in the crowd.
The Trump chant was a reference to the Prime Minister’s reluctance to condemn US President Donald Trump by name over his handling of the protests.
Trudeau was asked this week to respond to the President’s threat to deploy active duty military personnel on protesters in US cities — a question that Trudeau answered after a 21-second pause, said the CBC News report.
Trudeau was accompanied by Families Minister Ahmed Hussen, a Somali-Canadian who has spoken out about the racism he has faced in the country.
Protesters in other cities have asked police officers to kneel to show respect for black people who have been killed in police custody.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders also took a knee during a protest in that city on Friday.
Meanwhile, Jagmeet Singh, the leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, also took part in similar anti-black racism protests in Toronto on Friday.
“We need to be heard. People need to be heard,” Singh, a turbaned Sikh who is the first visible minority to lead a major national Canadian political party, said in a video post on his Instagram page.
“People want justice, they want systemic change and an end to racial profiling.”