Black lives Matter protests erupted across the world following the death of George Floyd on May 25th. From London and cities across Britain to Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney and Auckland, the movement went far beyond the streets. It dominated cyberspace, too. The US-based Pew Research Center has tracked the Twitter activity of lawmakers for the past two years. In Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, George Floyd's death and the Black Lives Matter protests drove online conversations around race. Prior to George Floyd's killing, very few had used the phrase Black Lives Matter or hashtags related to that movement: only about four percent. And now we see that after George Floyd's killing, those who are weighing in on these topics shoots up to about half. Continuing protests in the US prompted debates on domestic race relations in many other countries.
69 percent in Australia who were talking about George Floyd or the Black Lives Matter movement also began to talk about indigenous people in their countries. The same with a majority of the legislators in New Zealand. Almost two-thirds of all British lawmakers using Twitter posted messages about George Floyd or black lives matter. Most tweeted support and solidarity for the protesters, many used the Black Lives Matter hashtag to highlight perceived racial inequality in Britain. The protest in solidarity for instance in the United Kingdom. Personally, I don't think that's just about the US. It's also recognizing that these um this systemic racism exists here in the UK. Around a third of the surveyed legislators in Britain posted tweets critical of president Trumps handling of the protests. Twenty percent of British lawmakers posted messages critical of the demonstrations. With right-leaning MPs far more likely to oppose them. Some lawmakers were critical of the protesters gathering, despite the coronavirus pandemic. Legislators were talking about the coronavirus in respect to the protests, but then also turned that conversation to the fact that non-white groups within the UK are suffering worse outcomes. In the weeks since the death of George Floyd, statues of slave traders have been torn down. Colonial histories are being rewritten. And demands for racial equality have become louder amplified by social media.
Henry Ridgwell for VOA News London