UK Lockdown: Govt Pushes Police to Break Up Protests of More Than TWO People

Police move in to disperse protesters in Trafalgar Square in London on September 26, 2020,
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The British government has reportedly told police to break up protests involving more than two people during the national lockdown, in a move described as unfit for a “liberal society”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has informed police chief constables throughout England that the government is planning to remove the exemption to restrictions on public gatherings that protests have been granted since the beginning of the China virus crisis.

A government source in Whitehall told The Times that while the move would not explicitly ban protests, it would give police a clearer understanding of how to enforce the lockdown restrictions when dealing with protests.

The source added that the move was in reaction to an outcry from the public over the fact that they were banned from seeing their families, while thousands have been free to protest on the streets.

Others have expressed concerns about the loss of liberty, however, including a senior police source who said that police officers see their role in allowing protests is fundamental to life in a democratic society.

“This is going to cause a lot of trouble. People are going to be extremely angry and there are concerns they’ll protest the fact they can’t protest,” the police source said.

Political commentator Calvin Robinson wrote that the news “sent shivers” down his spine, questioning: “If we allow the banning of protests, how can we continue to call ourselves a ‘liberal society’?”

“The right to peaceful protest is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. In these unprecedented circumstances, any gathering risks spreading the disease, leading to more deaths, so it is vital we all play our part in controlling the virus,” a spokesman for the Home Office said.

“People must follow the rules on meeting with others, which apply to all gatherings and therefore protests too,” the spokesman added.

The national lockdown in England is expected to come in to place on Thursday, which also happens to be the 5th of November — also known as Guy Fawkes Day — the date of the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt to blow up the House of Lords in 1605.

The nation’s largest anti-lockdown activist group, Stand Up X, has announced a ‘Million Mask’ march on Guy Fawkes Day in London to protest against the impending lockdown and loss of liberties in the country.

On Wednesday, a protest organised by a Black Lives Matter group, alongside the leftist activist group Stand Up To Racism, is scheduled outside the United States embassy in London.

So far, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has not issued any advice concerning the two upcoming protests.

Since the introduction of restrictions in March in the UK, there has been a noticeable difference in the tactics used against left-wing protests held by BLM and other groups such as the climate change extremist group Extinction Rebellion.

While police have been witnessed aggressively shutting down anti-lockdown protests, the MPS has taken a “hands-off” approach in dealing with Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

In June, the top police official in the country MET commissioner, Cressida Dick, said that the reason for the lax approach to BLM protests was due to fears of kicking off “serious disorder“.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka


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