• Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Coronavirus

Priti Patel, Matt Hancock urge people to avoid large anti-racism gatherings

Protesters kneel at Trafalgar Square during a Black Lives Matter demonstration on June 05, 2020 in London. (Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

By: Eastern Eye Staff

PRITI PATEL has urged people to avoid large anti-racism demonstrations as “coronoavirus remains a real threat”.

Echoing Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s cautioning on Friday (5), the home secretary tweeted: “Please for the safety of all of us, do not attend large gatherings — including protests — of more than six people this weekend.”

She added that “people must protect themselves and their families from this horrific disease”.

Patel had earlier tweeted that she was “sickened at George Floyd’s death”, but stressed that “protests must be peaceful & in accordance with social distancing rules”.

Reports said several demonstrations had been planned over the weekend in the UK.

Tens of thousands had marched through central London on Wednesday to protest against racism after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, and further demonstrations are planned over the weekend.

“I understand why people are deeply upset but we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat,” Hancock said at the government’s daily news conference on Friday (6).

“So please, for the safety of your loved ones, do not attend large gatherings, including demonstrations of more than six people.”

Protesters around the world took to the streets again on Friday, despite coronavirus warnings, in a wave of outrage against racism in their own nations.

In London’s Trafalgar Square, dozens took to one knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Placards read: “White People Must Do More” and “Justice for Belly Mujinga” in reference to a rail worker who died of Covid-19 after being spat at by a man who said he was infected.

“There are a lot of uncomfortable conversations that people have been avoiding because it’s unpleasant, it’s not fun, and it can create tension, whether that’s in your family or with your friends or in your workplace,” said law firm worker Ada Offor, 21, in Trafalgar Square.

“But they’re conversations that need to be had if we want to avoid things like this happening in the future, if we want to create reform, if we want to finally create a kind of society where black bodies are treated equally.”

As authorities in many parts warned of the risk of Covid-19 infections from large gatherings, many protesters wore face masks, some in black or with a clenched fist image.

Protesters hold up placards at a demonstration in Centenary Square, central Birmingham on June 4, 2020, to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

The largest demonstrations elsewhere on Friday appeared to be in Germany, where more than 10,000 people gathered in Frankfurt and Hamburg, according to reports.

Many raised hands in the air and held banners with slogans such as: “Your Pain Is My Pain, Your Fight Is My Fight”.

One poster at the Frankfurt rally asked: “How Many Weren’t Filmed?” in reference to the fact that Floyd’s case was caught on camera in Minneapolis.

In Australia, demonstrators marched to Parliament House in Canberra, social media images showed, despite attempts by the authorities to stop gatherings due to the coronavirus.

Australians have also been drawing attention to mistreatment of indigenous nationals.

Austrian demonstrators gathered near the US embassy, holding banners with slogans such as “There Are No Races Just One Species”, while in Norway police let thousands of people protest even though authorities had said only 50 would be allowed.

Ignoring one-metre social distancing guidelines but wearing masks, several thousand people gathered in front of the Norwegian parliament and hundreds outside the US Embassy.

More global demonstrations have been planned for the weekend, causing much worry among authorities.

Eastern Eye

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