Police plea to stay safe from Covid-19 ahead of march in Northampton supporting Black Lives Matter
Police are appealing protesters to maintain social distancing and protect themselves from the risk of Covid-19 while demonstrating support for America's black community following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
But Sergeant Megan Sae-Thang, chair of the Northamptonshire Black Police Association, said: “We recognise the strength of feeling from communities within the county and their right to protest peacefully.
“We would ask that anyone taking part in these events remains mindful of the extra risk to BAME people from Covid-19 and as such takes the appropriate preventative measures, maintaining social distancing and wearing appropriate PPE.”
Northamptonshire Police say they are aware of tonight's planned protest and stand in solidarity with the many people across the world calling for justice and accountability in regards to the incredibly upsetting death of George Floyd.
Officers have have been in contact with organisers who are planning a peaceful event, although police will be on hand to help ensure those taking part are kept safe.
Northamptonshire's Chief Constable Nick Adderley added: “In this county we continue to work closely with all the communities we serve, constantly striving to forge positive relations and build a spirit of mutual trust.
"Legitimacy is the watchword when it comes to policing and while we would acknowledge that disproportionality does still exist, we remain absolutely committed to tackling this, working with a range of partners and our trade unions and police staff associations acting as our critical friends.
"The way in which we engage and police our communities going forward is absolutely critical to ensuring public confidence is maintained and enhanced.
"The Northamptonshire Black Police Association and the Muslim Police Association continue to act as key professional advisers to our senior leadership team, both in helping the Force shape the way we protect the many different communities living in this county, ensuring their views and experiences are always heard and represented.
"We are aware of a number of peaceful protests planned in Northamptonshire and elsewhere over the coming days and we will, where necessary, deploy officers to ensure they pass off safely. We will be asking protestors to respect the social distancing requirements as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but recognise too that we also respect the rights of individuals to conduct a peaceful protest."
Floyd, a 46-year-old dad, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest last month. Video of the incident went viral sparking mass protests in the US and around the world.
Thousands descended on London's Hyde Park earlier today but the vast majority wore face masks and stayed more than two metres apart in accordance with Government guidance.
People from ethnic minorities are at a higher risk of dying from coronavirus — which has killed more than 39,000 in the UK, 553 in Northamptonshire — according to a report by Public Health England.
Sophia Perveen, chair of the Association of Muslim Police, said: “This is a turning point for everyone. As an association, we strongly advocate the needs of minority communities and will always look to support individuals and the police force to create better race relations at all times.
“No one individual should have superiority over another. By working together for change, we can be stronger.”