CALGARY -- A massive crowd of Calgarians marched through downtown Monday morning chanting “Black Lives Matter” during a rally to fight racism.

“It hurts seeing that we always have to cower and hide away from the police or that we always have to live in fear,” said protester Leban Ahmmedmussa.

“So to me, being out here, protesting against it and seeing all these amazing people around me, it just makes me feel more united with the city.”

Protests have erupted across the continent following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer while handcuffed in Minneapolis on May 25. 

The incident was recorded and the officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

In video of the incident, Floyd can be heard saying, "I can’t breathe."

“It’s not just us saying we don’t care about the police or that they’re bad people,” said protester Blessing Asebiode.

 “But I think it’s, in essence, them saying 'we understand.'” 

Calgarians marched from the river walk in East Village to city hall, where protesters gathered peacefully. 

In Alberta, large gatherings of 50 or more people are prohibited under a public health order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many protesters did not maintain the two metre separation but the majority of people were wearing masks. 

During her regular update, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said it's still important for people to be aware of the dangers of the virus possibly spreading when distancing isn't possible.

"Whether people are exercising their democratic right to protest, or whether people are gathering with family, or whether people are attending an outdoor gathering of any nature, as much as possible we are all protecting each other by making sure that, as much as possible, that two metres of distance is observed," she said. 

"And where there is a challenge in maintaining that, face masks are worn by as many people in attendance as possible."

Protests in the USA have erupted into looting and rioting and police in Montreal were firing tear gas over the weekend. 

"We want to stay peaceful because a lot of places are going kind of crazy and things like that because peace is the only way we’re going to move forward,” said  protester Jared Smith. 

“Vandalizing is not going to help so accountability is my word today, because I just want accountability for people that are doing things to wrong others.”

Around 100 protesters also gathered in Fish Creek Provincial Park in a field near Bow Valley Ranche on Sunday to speak against racism.

Monday’s protest is one of three demonstrations planned in Calgary this week. 

Protesters plan to meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Louise Bridge on 10th Street Northwest near the Bow River for a march through downtown followed by a candle light vigil at city hall. 

A Black Lives Matter movement event is also scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday outside city hall.