Mass gatherings to protest George Floyd death 'unlawful', top cop warns

5 June 2020, 08:46

The officer warned protests could be "unlawful" due to the current coronavirus restrictions in place
The officer warned protests could be "unlawful" due to the current coronavirus restrictions in place. Picture: LBC
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

One of London's top police officers has warned that mass gatherings to protest against the death of George Floyd would be "unlawful" due to the current coronavirus restrictions in place.

Laurence Taylor, Deputy Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, said: "The health protection regulations are really clear that it is unlawful."

On Wednesday, thousands of demonstrators met in Hyde Park carrying placards in support of Black Lives Matter, and against police brutality - while others carried signs reminding protesters to adhere to social distancing.

The demonstration is the second of its kind in less than a week following a protest on Sunday that saw thousands of people march to the US Embassy and further protests planned in London and across the country in the coming days.

Wednesday's demonstration saw the group move to Parliament Square before gathering outside Downing Street, where tensions rose, with one witness saying there was a "very volatile group at the centre of the crowd."

DAC Taylor told the BBC: "The Government said that for health reasons people should not be meeting in groups of six, 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.

"And if they do come out, then we would ask them to observe that social distancing, think about those around them.

"But of course, by coming and gathering in these large groups they are potentially risking their health and also risking taking the virus back to their families."

Before protests across the country UK chief constables said they stand alongside all those "appalled and horrified" by the death of George Floyd in the US.

In a joint statement, they said the right to lawful protest was a "key part of any democracy". But they stressed coronavirus restrictions, including not gathering in groups of more than six, remained in place.