Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a knee during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Ottawa on Friday.
Trudeau’s act of solidarity comes after he declined to comment earlier in the day about whether he would be attending the protest. Still, he arrived at Parliament Hill – home to Canada’s Parliament – wearing a black cloth mask Friday afternoon and surrounded by security guards, according to CNN affiliate CTVnews.
Trudeau did not speak at the event, though he clapped and nodded along with some of the other speakers, including a moment when a speaker asserted there is no middle ground on racism. At another point, he yelled “Amen” along with other protesters after a speaker discussed promoting love and justice.
Some in the crowd shouted at him to stand up to US President Donald Trump, CTVnews reported.
Though many celebrities have been outspoken about their support for protesters in the US, support from world leaders has been muted, despite global protests featuring the Black Lives Matter slogan.
On Monday, the Canadian leader paused for nearly 20 seconds when asked about the President, looking visibly uncomfortable before side-stepping the question.
Friday’s protest was organized by No Peace Until Justice as part of a slew of protests against police brutality and systemic racism around the world following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The crowd had a moment of silence for almost nine minutes – the amount of time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed on Floyd’s neck. During this silence, many took a knee, too.
Trudeau joined them.
The Ottawa Police Service told CTVnews in a statement the march was peaceful. “We respect the rights of our residents and community members to speak out when they see injustices and we understand the community’s deep pain and frustration,” they said. “Our role is to provide a safe space for people to grieve and be heard.”
Ottawa Public Health asked attendees to wash their hands, clean their belongings and put their clothes in the wash, all to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus.