Scots anti-racism protesters told to avoid weekend 'mass gatherings' by Humza Yousaf

Scotland's Justice Secretary has urged Scots to stay away from "mass gatherings" this weekend as the Black Lives Matter campaign plans a series of protests.

Humza Yousaf has warned against "mass gatherings"
Humza Yousaf has warned against "mass gatherings"

Humza Yousaf said the threat of COVID-19 means such events would pose a clear risk to public health.

One of the protests originally planned to take place in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens has been moved to Holyrood Park in order to help observe social distancing.

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But Mr Yousaf warned in a statement today that this won't be enough to combat the threat of contagion.

“In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd, it is again clear that the scourge of racism continues to blight every nation on earth, and all of us must play our part in tackling it," he said.

“I fully understand and feel the anger, and the sadness, that leads people to want to gather together and to show solidarity and community at this time.

"Unfortunately, the threat of COVID-19 is still with us and I must urge people not to attend mass gatherings, which pose a clear risk to public health, even with social distancing in place."

Black Lives Matters is planning a series of protests around the UK after the death of George Floyd while being arrested by police in Minneapolis. The US city was engulfed by rioting in the aftermath of the fatality, which has seen one police officer charged with second degree murder and others with lesser charges in relation to the incident.

The Scottish Government's official advice is that no more than eight people should meet at any one time, and for those people to be from no more than two households.

Nicola Sturgeon has already expressed concerns over plans for protests in Scotland this weekend, calling mass gatherings “a threat to life” amid the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Yousaf urged Scots to look at "alternative ways" to make their voices heard on the issue, including through social media.

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He added: “In Scotland, we value the considerable and important role of our diverse minority ethnic communities. We cannot, and will not, tolerate hate crime, prejudice or discrimination of any kind. It is not enough to simply not be a racist – we must be anti-racist, by supporting our minority ethnic communities, and condemning racism, hate and injustice wherever we find it.

“I hope we will soon be able to gather together to show our solidarity. But until then we must continue to do what is necessary to protect the health of everyone, following the guidelines. That is the best and quickest way to ensure we continue along the path of easing lockdown, and meet again sooner rather than later.”

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