Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau joined thousands on Friday in taking a knee in front of Canada's parliament in solidarity with US protesters marching against racism and police brutality.
It marked a rare public outing for the Canadian leader since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as protests spread outside the United States after police in Minnesota killed an unarmed black man.
Trudeau, holding a "Black Lives Matter" T-shirt, chanted from behind a mask along with the crowd that extended several blocks to the US embassy, and later stood in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds. This was the length of time that a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on George Floyd's neck, an unarmed African-American, who died after continuously pleading "I can't breathe."
While photos of Trudeau at the protest went viral, several people were quick to point out the stark difference in the way the Canadian PM and US President Donald Trump had approached the situation.
As the protests raged through the United States, Trump threatened to send in military troops to quell riots if people did not back down. When the protesters approached the White House, Trump took shelter in a bunker at his residence.
He has also openly criticized the gesture of kneeling, which has now become a symbol of racial resistance in the US. “We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag - NO KNEELING!” Trump said, according to a Reuters report.
On the contrary, when asked about Trump and the use of tear gas against protesters to clear the way for a photo opportunity, Trudeau gave a 21-second-long pause before answering. He avoided naming Trump and said, "We all watch in horror and consternation at what is going on the United States. It is time to pull people together."
Now, social media is flooded with comparisons of the two world leaders, with most Americans calling Trudeau a "real leader."
This is what a real leader does!
JustinTrudeau acknowledged police brutality & racial injustice
AND took a knee in solidarity.
He rose to the occasion!
YOU’RE A FAILURE!
NOVEMBER IS COMING!June 6, 2020
When @CanadianPM joins thousands gathered on Parliament Hill to say that Black lives matter -- that my life matters, my dad's life, my siblings' lives, my kids' lives, 1.2M Black Canadians' lives matter -- that's a welcome balm for my troubled spirit.https://t.co/kbgM17PsXR— Greg Fergus (@GregFergus) June 6, 2020
This is Justin Trudeau the Prime Minister of Canada taking a knee with thousands of protestors. Donald Trump could learn a lot from him. pic.twitter.com/VNGIrKGY90— Lynn GP (@lynnanimalover) June 6, 2020
Not a big Trudeau fan (most assume I am because I find the Cons such an intolerable lot) but I have to say, seeing Canadians drag on our PM for kneeling ... my mind boggles.
Trump sends out riot squads. Kenney’s made protest illegal.
So. Yeah. Trudeau kneeled.
The monster.— Barney Panofsky's Best Intentions (@mynamesnotgordy) June 6, 2020
Trudeau is a leader. Trump is an international embarrassment.— Cmango122 (@Cmango1221) June 5, 2020
(With inputs from Reuters)