When we knelt in honour of Floyd, something inside me broke

Tyrone Chambers, an American opera singer based in Germany, shares what it feels like to be an American living in Europe, watching the BLM movement from across the ocean.

Black Lives Matter protest in GermanyBlack Lives Matter protest in Germany (Source: AP/TASR)

After a rainy morning in the German city of Mainz, around 2,500 people gathered near the Rhine River to protest against the May 25 murder of George Floyd.

Read more:Americans in Slovakia: Demonstrations back home even bigger than the civil rights era Read more 

Black American opera singer Tyrone Chambers, who lives in Mainz, took part in the silent demonstration, one of many taking place in Germany that day. Since the organisers spoke in German through a bullhorn, Chambers could not understand most of what was being said. But when they asked the crowd to kneel on the ground, he slowly came to a painful realisation.

“I think they are going to make us kneel for nine minutes,” Chambers whispered to his friend. When another friend asked why and no one answered, Chambers replied, “because that’s how long the officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck.”

After uttering those words out loud, something inside him broke.

“For the rest of the time we were on our knees, I was full-on weeping, sobbing, crying, trying to muffle myself, but I couldn’t,” he said. “It was so painful because I thought about how poetic this moment was.”

It was one of the most powerful physical analogies he had ever experienced.

Survivor's guilt

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