The son of human rights leader Martin Luther King has praised New Zealand's involvement in the Black Lives Matter Movement, which has swept across the globe following the death of African-American man George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.

Speaking with Newstalk ZB's The Weekend Collective, Martin Luther King III said it was great to see so many people protesting for human rights.

"My dad used to say the greatness of a democratic system is the right to protest for human rights, so people are protesting for justice, for righteousness and for equality all over the world," King said.

"The tragic killing of George Floyd was the catalyst which stimulated the protests."

Advertisement

Earlier yesterday, Atlanta's police chief resigned just hours after one of her officers shot dead 27-year-old black man Rayshard Brooks, who had fallen asleep in his car at a Wendy's fastfood restaurant drive-through, which has prompted new protests.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the police chief's resignation at a news conference as roughly 150 people marched outside the scene where Brooks was fatally shot. The mayor also called for the immediate firing of the officer who opened fire at Brooks.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says Brooks resisted attempts to be taken into custody after he failed a sobriety test and a struggle ensued over a Taser.

"I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer," Bottoms said.

King said both incidents show there is a "clear" racial problem within the US police force.

"For a police officer not to apprehend a suspect, but instead kill them is beyond tragic," he said.

"When it comes to apprehending black suspects it always ends up fatal ... and there is something drastically wrong with that."

Most recently, demonstrators in New Orleans tore down a statue of John McDonogh, who was a slave owner who died in 1850.

Advertisement
Martin Luther King III attends The Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact inaugural celebration at The Town Hall in February 2020 in New York City. Photo / AP
Martin Luther King III attends The Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact inaugural celebration at The Town Hall in February 2020 in New York City. Photo / AP

King said he had no problem with such statues being in museums, "as people deserve to know its history", but "I don't believe they should be in places to be honoured".

King said the racial climate is changing, as more people from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds come together, to call for an end to racism: "You've got poor people, rich people, black and white people, Latino, and Asians all demonstrating ... so the consciousness has been aroused because of George Floyd. Action now has to take place within police agencies all across America ... because people are now awakened."