Trudeau joined the demonstrators who knelt for eight minutes 46 seconds describing the time a Minneapolis police officer held his knee above his neck George Floyd before he died. The African-American man died while detained by police on May 25. The four police officers who were at the scene now face charges of murder.
Protesters in other cities have asked police officers to kneel to show respect for black people killed in police custody. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders also knelt during demonstrations in the city.
Trudeau tried to blend in with the demonstrators on Friday – but TV cameras and the presence of RCMP security forces made his presence known to about 4,000 activists who gathered around the Centennial Flame on the lawn on Parliament Hill. Trudeau told her security to stop pushing people when she walked closer to the stage where the speakers talked to the crowd.
Trudeau was initially greeted with a shout "Trump Defender!" and go!" from several people. The cry subsided as local black leaders began to speak of their call to end racial injustice at home and abroad.
Trudeau was asked this week to respond to the president's threat to deploy active duty military personnel to protesters in US cities – a question Trudeau answered after a 21-second pause. (Read: Asked for Response to Trump's Problem, Canadian PM Lost Words)
The prime minister applauded Friday when speakers gathered to shout "black life" and called on those in power to do more to overcome systemic racism.
Someone in the crowd gave the Prime Minister a T-shirt with the slogan displayed on the front.
Trudeau was accompanied by Family Minister Ahmed Hussen, a Somali-Canadian who had talked about the racism he faced in Canada.
"I think this is very strong when your head of government kneels and claps when people say 'the lives of black people are important'," Hussen said.
"It is extraordinary for him to come and be a part of this," he added CBC, Saturday (6/6/2020).
The crowd at hand for Parliament Hill's protest was a multi-city racial cross-section, something Hussen said gave him "a lot of hope in the future."
After the speech, the protesters moved down Wellington St., which runs right in front of the Prime Minister's Office in downtown Ottawa.
NDP Jagmeet Singh also took part in similar anti-black protests in Toronto. He marched with activists to Nathan Phillips Square in the city.
"We need to be heard. People need to be heard," Singh said in a video post on his Instagram page. "People want justice, they want systemic change and an end to racial profiling."