Czech President Milos Zeman said “the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a racist slogan because all lives matter,” in a speech delivered at the celebration of U.S. Independence Day at the American Embassy in Prague on June 30.
“I am here not only as an independent citizen, I am here also as a friend of America. … And in both positions, I say that the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a racist slogan because all lives matter,” Zeman said at the celebration.
“We celebrate the independence of citizens, of the faith, and of the nations,” he said.
He said the independence of citizens is under attack in both the Czech Republic and the United States. “This danger cannot be omitted. And we must face it,” he added referring to recent street riots, toppling monuments, and burning cars taking place in both countries.
Some people who take part in these events declare themselves “value leaders, or even opinion leaders,” Zeman said.
“We need free thinking, we need common sense,” he said, we “do not need any big brothers who will say what the values are,” or “any new opinion leader.” Zeman said he upholds the values and traditions passed by his parents.
U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Stephen King recalled in his speech at the celebration the cultural ties between both countries and support extended by the United States to the Czech nation at challenging times.
U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Stephen King said, “our founders set down the principles of liberty, self-government, equality, and unity. Since then, we have continuously strived to further these values. Even when we disagree, we hold true to these ideas and continue to demand a more perfect union.”
“I hope that when you look at America … you will always see the value of creating and maintaining stable and open democratic institutions, and societies, built on the bedrock principles of freedom and prosperity,” King concluded.
The Black Lives Matter movement, which has come to be associated with recent race riots following the death of George Floyd, has become an influential player in U.S. politics, as it has gained a following by claiming that blacks are systematically targeted.
The radical left-wing movement, which calls for defunding the police and providing blacks with “reparations” because their ancestors were enslaved before the Civil War, gained respect for its political pull on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, although Democratic lawmakers are vastly more supportive of it than Republicans.
The Black Lives Matter Global Network, a global nonprofit was founded in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
The group says its mission “is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”
Black Lives Matter activists are pushing to defund police departments across the United States and some have said they want the departments abolished, a situation that’s unfolding in Minneapolis.
Leaders in the movement have declined to condemn the rioting and looting that’s taken place in tandem with protests over alleged police brutality and racial injustice.
Hawk Newsome, a New York-area leader of the group, drew criticism, including from President Donald Trump, after saying last week, “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it.”
Matthew Vadum, Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.