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Thousands sign petition to keep George Floyd train graffiti

11:32 02/06/2020

More than 6,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Belgian rail operator SNCB not to remove a piece of graffiti honouring George Floyd, the African-American whose death in police custody last week has sparked unrest in the United States.

Images of the graffiti went viral over the weekend, showing a whole train carriage covered in black paint with white lettering that reads: "Please, I can't breathe" - the last words Floyd gasped as a white police officer knelt on his neck.

A petition on Change.org, started by Bernard De Vos, has asked the SNCB to keep the graffiti in place for at least the next 100 days, and not to prosecute the vandal(s).

"We are revolted by the tragic death of George Floyd and by racist police violence against black people," the petition reads.

"We know that institutional racism is plaguing our societies far beyond the United States. This tag is a peaceful, fair and proportionate reaction - it is a wonderful tool for raising awareness of the fight against racism and all forms of discrimination."

The SNCB said in a statement that it understood that "certain events arouse a strong emotion which crosses borders" and that "some people want to express their support by sending strong messages" but the rail operator added: "Tagging a train is not not an acceptable solution."

About 50 people took part in a Black Lives Matter protest on the Place de la Monnaie in Brussels on Monday afternoon, which had not received police authorisation.

A Brussels-Ixelles police spokeswoman said officers allowed those who had gathered to stay for half an hour and deliver a few speeches, while maintaining social distancing. 

Written by The Bulletin