Rihanna
Photo: Getty

Following the death of George Floyd, a whole host of public figures, including Michelle Obama, Rihanna and Beyoncé, have utilised their social media platforms to send powerful messages and demand justice.

Earlier this week, footage appeared online showing Floyd, who was African American, struggling for breath and crying out “I can’t breathe” and “Don’t kill me” while a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes as other officers stood by. Floyd, a 46-year-old father, was pronounced dead after being taken to a nearby hospital.

The distressing video, which was filmed on Monday in Minneapolis, Minnesota, depicts another incident in a long history of police brutality against black people. Floyd’s death also follows the recent high-profile deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man shot and killed while he was jogging, and Breonna Taylor, a black woman gunned down by the police in her own home.

According to CNN, four Minneapolis officers were fired and an FBI investigation was ordered as a result of the incident.

The day after Floyd’s death, protests erupted throughout America calling for an end to police brutality and demanding justice for Floyd. Signs saying “I can’t breathe” flooded the streets as protestors chanted “No justice, no peace”.

Celebrities have shared heartfelt responses as they call for change and action:

Adele

Michelle Obama

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Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us. Artwork: @nikkolas_smith

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Rihanna

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For the last few days, the magnitude of devastation, anger, sadness I’ve felt has been overwhelming to say the least! Watching my people get murdered and lynched day after day pushed me to a heavy place in my heart! To the point of staying away from socials, just to avoid hearing the blood curdling agony in George Floyd’s voice again, begging over and over for his life!!! The look of enticement, the pure joy and climax on the face of this bigot, murderer, thug, pig, bum, Derek Chauvin, haunts me!! I can’t shake this! I can’t get over an ambulance pulling up to an arrest, a paramedic checking a pulse without removing the very thing that’s hindering it! Is this that fucking normal??? If intentional MURDER is the fit consequence for “drugs” or “resisting arrest”….then what’s the fit consequence for MURDER???! #GeorgeFloyd #AhmaudArbery #BreonnaTaylor

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Beyoncé

Oprah

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I’ve been trying to process what can be said or heard in this moment. I haven’t been able to get the image of the knee on his neck out of my head. It’s there every morning when I rise and when I go through the ordinary duties of the day. While pouring coffee, lacing my shoes, and taking a breath, I think: He doesn’t get to do this. And now the video from the other angle of two other officers pinning him down. My heart sinks even deeper. His family and friends say he was a gentle giant. His death has now shown us he had a giant soul. If the largeness of a soul is determined by its sphere of influence, George Floyd is a Mighty soul. #GeorgeFloyd: We speak your name. But this time we will not let your name be just a hashtag. Your spirit is lifted by the cries of all of us who call for justice in your name!

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Kim Kardashian West

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Text "FLOYD" to 55156 #blacklivesmatter

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Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

Tracee Ellis Ross

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George Floyd. You should be alive.

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Naomi Campbell

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#JusticeForFloyd

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Barack Obama

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I want to share parts of the conversations I’ve had with friends over the past couple days about the footage of George Floyd dying face down on the street under the knee of a police officer in Minnesota.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ The first is an email from a middle-aged African American businessman.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ “Dude I gotta tell you the George Floyd incident in Minnesota hurt. I cried when I saw that video. It broke me down. The ‘knee on the neck’ is a metaphor for how the system so cavalierly holds black folks down, ignoring the cries for help. People don’t care. Truly tragic.”⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ Another friend of mine used the powerful song that went viral from 12-year-old Keedron Bryant to describe the frustrations he was feeling.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ The circumstances of my friend and Keedron may be different, but their anguish is the same. It’s shared by me and millions of others.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ It’s natural to wish for life “to just get back to normal” as a pandemic and economic crisis upend everything around us. But we have to remember that for millions of Americans, being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly “normal” – whether it’s while dealing with the health care system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in a park.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal.” If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣ It will fall mainly on the officials of Minnesota to ensure that the circumstances surrounding George Floyd’s death are investigated thoroughly and that justice is ultimately done. But it falls on all of us, regardless of our race or station – including the majority of men and women in law enforcement who take pride in doing their tough job the right way, every day – to work together to create a “new normal” in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer infects our institutions or our hearts.

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Bella Hadid

Olivia Wilde

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This is America. 💔

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Cardi B

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Katie Holmes

Zoë Kravitz

You can donate to demand justice for George Floyd

  • Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, has started a GoFundMe to assist his family in their time of grief and need. DONATE HERE
  • The Minnesota Freedom Fund, a grassroots organisation currently working with the National Lawyers Guild and the Legal Rights Center, will use donations to bail out arrested protestors and to supply those on the field. DONATE HERE
  • Reclaim the Block, a grassroots organisation based in Minneapolis, will use funds to address community needs. DONATE HERE
  • Black Visions Collective, which is based in Minnesota, focuses its work on transformative justice in the state. DONATE HERE
  • North Star Health Collective is a group of street medics, radical health organisers, and community health trainers based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and will use funds for gear and medical supplies on the field. DONATE HERE
  • Organisers in Louisville, Kentucky–the city that Breonna Taylor lived in–have created a community bail fund for protestors. DONATE HERE

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.