LONDON — The London Metropolitan Police on Saturday urged protesters not to descend on the British capital amid concerns about the pandemic and potential clashes between anti-racist protesters and far-right groups.
The death of George Floyd has sparked outrage and protests around the world. In London, demonstrators were expected to hit the streets for the third weekend in a row.
The Metropolitan Police Commander Bas Javid said, “I absolutely understand why people want to make their voices heard. But the government is clear, and that is, we remain in a health pandemic.” He said that for those who were intent on coming anyway should comply with rules on social distancing.
Priti Patel, Britain’s home secretary, tweeted on Saturday: “We are in the grip of an unprecedented national health emergency. This severe public health risk forces me to continue to urge people not to attend protests this weekend.”
On both sides of the Atlantic, protesters have ignored the bans on large public gatherings and come together to voice their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Last weekend in the U.K., over 100,000 protesters took to the streets in cities up and down the country. Protesters in Bristol topped a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in to the harbor while in London, the statue of Winston Churchill was tagged with “was a racist.”
On Friday, a number of statues, including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were boarded up amid fears that protesters this weekend could target them.