How To Go To A Black Lives Matter Protest During The Coronavirus Lockdown

Mass gatherings and social distancing make for a difficult balance. Here are some helpful tips for those attending protests.

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Two major world events have collided on streets around the world as thousands upon thousands of people protest over the killing of George Floyd in cities that are in various stages of coronavirus lockdown.

Balancing social distancing with the need to protest is throwing up difficult scenarios for some Brits.

Here’s HuffPost UK’s guide to protests this weekend...

Are protests going ahead?

This is an easy one – yes. Large protests are planned across the UK, including in London, Manchester, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

A march was planned in Leeds but has since been cancelled.

A more complete list of events plus times and congregation points can be found at the end of this article.

Are they legal?

Technically, meeting in a protest-sized group is not allowed under current coronavirus legislation across the UK.

Speaking at the Downing Street briefing on Friday, health secretary Matt Hancock pleaded with the public to avoid anti-racism protests which break lockdown rules this weekend as “coronavirus remains a threat”.

But police force’s in England have suggested they will not disperse crowds so long as they remain peaceful and maintain social distancing.

Speaking on Radio 4′s Today programme on Friday, Laurence Taylor, deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, said it was “clear” that such protests are “unlawful”.

He added: “So we would strongly encourage people not to come out and gather in these large numbers because they are putting themselves and others at risk.”

But he then went on to say: “And if they do come out, then we would ask them to observe that social distancing, think about those around them.”

Other forces around the country have taken a similar line. Greater Manchester Police told HuffPost UK in a statement they would “monitor the situation” and stressed the importance of social distancing.

Speaking of a protest in Birmingham earlier in the week, West Midlands Police said: “We appreciate that today’s gathering was much larger than is allowed by those regulations, but we have consistently said that our approach is to engage, explain and encourage people, and we will only enforce the regulations when absolutely necessary.”

Another protest in Belfast earlier this week was allowed to go ahead and finished with no incident.

But Police Scotland has taken a firmer line, urging people to look for alternatives, such as online protests.

In a statement, assistant chief constable Kenny MacDonald, said: “A number of events are planned in response to the death of George Floyd, but with current public health restrictions and guidance in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, I would ask those wishing to protest not to gather in large groups but instead please find an alternative, such as digital protests.”

South Wales Police told HuffPost UK they are “working to engage with protest organisers and attendees in order to remind them of their obligations under the current coronavirus legislation, including the prohibition on gatherings of more than two households”.

They added: “We are duty-bound to take into account all relevant legislation and South Wales Police has strived to maintain a consistent policing style of engaging, explaining and encouraging, and enforcing as last resort where necessary, throughout this public health emergency – an approach we intend to continue throughout the weekend.”

I’m going. Anything I should know?

If you attend a protest in England, the general police advice suggests it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get into trouble in a legal sense providing you maintain social distancing and remain peaceful.

This might not be true in Scotland and Wales and crowds may be told to disperse.

But regardless of where you are, there are a few very important things to consider regarding coronavirus.


What should I take with me?

As well as the usual food, water and homemade signs, taking hand sanitiser, a few face coverings and some gloves would also help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Are there alternatives?

Yes, plenty, if you want to show your support but have health concerns.

One would-be Black Lives Matter protester from Prestwich, Greater Manchester told HuffPost UK: “As much as we need to show how much we would risk for BLM, it’s putting others at risk, not just myself.

“If I lived alone I’d be on the front line. But I can’t risk carrying the virus and passing it to my disabled father.”

Another, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, told HuffPost UK: “I’m going to make some donations tomorrow instead of going. If I’m not prepared to risk going to see my mum, or going to the office, I can’t risk being in a crowd where I can’t safely distance myself.

“I know money isn’t the same as making your presence felt but I still can’t see my mum and I desperately need this pandemic to be over.”

The UK Black Lives Matter fund is currently taking donations and is currently only £55,000 short of the £500,000 target.

Another option is to write to your MP. Amnesty UK has a template you can use in order to “write to your MP calling on them to take racial justice seriously”.

There are also online protests planned. In Newcastle from 1pm on Saturday, an online event will “platform local and international BAME speakers and observe a minute’s silence for George Floyd and Belly Mujinga”.

Some of the protests planned this weekend:








Swindon: Regent’s Circus, 1pm.

Ipswich: Town Hall and Corn Exchange, 2pm.








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