Austurvöllur square, in front of Iceland’s Parliament building, filled with over 3,000 people yesterday afternoon for a solidarity meeting organised by African Americans living in Iceland. The meeting began with an emotional moment of silence lasting eight minutes and 46 seconds – the length of time police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck, leading to Floyd’s death in Minnesota on May 25.
“It was great for thinking about these issues, not just about George Floyd, but everyone that came before,” Derek T. Allan, one of the organisers of the protest, told Vísir. “The atmosphere was something else, it’s difficult to describe. It warms the heart to see so many and that they were here to listen to us.”
Police in Attendance
One Black Icelander that spoke to reporters pointed out that Iceland is not free of racism, saying she had experienced it from an early age. “It’s pain that no one can understand unless they’ve experienced it. It’s a very sad and tiring thing,” she stated.
Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir, newly appointed Police Commissioner of the Reykjavík Capital Area, was also present at the event. “We were here to show solidarity with the issue,” she stated. “I think it’s very important that we all be equal before the law, and it was very important to come here and hear what they had to say.”
Westfjords residents also show solidarity
A solidarity meeting was also held in Ísafjörður, the largest town in the Westfjords, RÚV reports. Around 100 people gathered in the town centre, where, like in Reykjavík, the meeting began with a moment of silence.