Pope Francis has today broken his silence over the death of George Floyd, praying for all those killed by the 'sin of racism' and condemning 'self-defeating' violent protests across the US.
The pontiff said 'we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism' as he dedicated the entire English-language section of his weekly audience to the situation in America this morning.
But he also condemned the violence that followed Floyd's death in the city of Minneapolis last week as 'self-destructive and self-defeating'.
'Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost,' Francis added, before calling for national reconciliation and peace.
Floyd, 46, an unarmed black man, suffocated as a white police officer knelt on his neck, sparking widespread demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality.
Speaking during his weekly general audience from the Vatican City on June 3, 2020, Pope Francis addressed the unrest in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd on May 25 which has seen clashes between police and protesters, as well as looting, in a number of U.S. cities
Pope Francis called Floyd's death tragic, and said he was praying for him and all those who had been killed as a result of the 'sin of racism'.
'Dear brothers and sisters in the United States, I have witnessed with great concern the disturbing social unrest in your nation in these past days, following the tragic death of Mr George Floyd,' the pope said during a video broadcast on June 3 from the Vatican.
'Today I join the Church of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and of all the United States, in praying for the rest of the soul of George Floyd and all the others who have lost their lives because of the sin of racism.
'Let us pray for the comfort of families and friends who are heartbroken, and pray for national reconciliation and the peace we yearn for.'
Cities across the U.S. have witnessed days of protests in the wake of Floyd's death.
In a video captured on May 25 - memorial day in the U.S. - Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes, leading to his death.
Chauvin has since been fired and charged with murder and manslaughter, but anger over the incident has continued, with the protests showing no sign of abating.
However, many have turned violent, with some people looting shops, while police have been seen used heavy-handed tactics in an attempt to get the protests under control, such as deploying tear gas, rubber bullets and batons.
At least eleven people are believed to have died in the protests as of Monday.
The pope called the death of George Floyd tragic, and said he was praying for him and all those who had been killed as a result of the 'sin of racism'. Pictured: Protesters take to the streets to demonstrate against the death of Floyd
George Floyd, pictured, died on May 25 when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes, leading to his death
'We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,' the pope said in his address from the Library of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican.
'At the same time, we have to recognize that the violence of recent nights is self-destructive and self-defeating. Nothing is gained by violence and so much is lost.'
On Monday, President Trump walked across the street from the White House to pose in front of St. John's church in a staged event that police and National Guard forces facilitated by using tear gas and rubber bullets to clear away peaceful protesters.
The move was conceived as a way to allow Trump to demonstrate his self-proclaimed role as the 'law and order president' and came after the president vowed to use the military to restore order in cities across the country.
On Monday, President Trump walked across the street from the White House to the nearby St. Johns church where he held up a bible, drawing criticism from religious leaders
The President used police and National Guard to clear peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park and the area around it across from the White House in order to reach the church
While at the church, the President was seen holding up a bible as global and national media broadcast images of shield-bearing and mounted police using force to clear Lafayette Park, an area whose use as a forum for demonstrations and speech has long been protected.
'The president just used a Bible, the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus,' said The Episcopal Bishop of Washington, the Right Reverend Mariann Budde.
On Tuesday, social media feeds went dark and quiet as tens of millions of people across the world showed solidarity with the black community following the death of George Floyd.
As part of an initiative called Blackout Tuesday, social media users shared black squares and paused posting on their profiles as they called for racial equality.
Statistics from Instagram alone showed posts with the hashtag #blackouttuesday had been used more than 22 million times by Tuesday evening – while related tags #blackoutday2020 and #theshowmustbepaused were also used hundreds of thousands of times.
Death toll rises as protests continue across the country
As of Monday night, at least ten people have died in the protests and riots that have sprung up over the death of George Floyd.
Italia Kelly, 22,was shot in her car in a Walmart parking lot in Davenport, Iowa, just as she was leaving a demonstration late on Sunday night.
Another victim was also shot during protests in Davenport, Iowa on Sunday, according to officials. Police have not yet named them.
David McAtee, 53, who ran a barbecue business in Louisville, Kentucky was shot and killed by police on Monday. His death came as officers from the Louisville Police Department and National Guard soldiers opened fire to clear a large crowd that were still gathered after a curfew was in effect.
Patrick Underwood, 53, of Pinole, California, was on duty during the riots as a security guard at a federal building in Oakland when he was shot at and killed by someone in a car.
Two people were fatally shot during protests in Cicero, Illinois near Chicago on Monday. Their identities have not yet been released.
James Scurlock, 22, was shot was shot by a white bar owner in Omaha who claimed the shooting of the black man to be an act of self-defense.
Chris Beaty, 38, a former football player for Indiana University, was killed during a shooting late on Saturday in Indianapolis,
Dorian Murrell,18, was shot dead early on Sunday morning, also in Indianapolis.
Unidentified man in St. Louis, Missouri was killed after falling underneath a FedEx truck that was driving away from protesters on Saturday morning.
A 19-year-old man was killed on Friday night in Detroit after shots were fired into a protest crowd from an SUV.