Labour’s London mayor Sadiq Khan has raised concerns over the lack of social distancing – called for by coronavirus rules – at the Black Lives Matter protest held on Wednesday.
Speaking to LBC’s Shelagh Fogarty on Thursday afternoon, Khan said that the “vast majority” of demonstrators joined the protest “lawfully, peacefully and safely”.
But he added that “unfortunately a small minority were aggressive, violent and abusive towards our police”, which he described as “unacceptable”.
The mayor also complained that “a small minority did socially interact, not keep their distance” and “could inadvertently be passing the virus on or catching it”.
“The virus is still there. The virus is deadly. Let’s not give it the opportunity to spread even faster,” he said, adding that that he would say the same to those celebrating VE Day or going to the beach in an unsafe way.
Khan said: “I understand how angry people are, and it’s rightly ignited fury. But in the context of a global pandemic, we’ve got to be very careful.
“Personally, for example, I would not go on a protest in the middle of a global pandemic… Ask yourself: is this the safest thing you can do for you and your family, by going on a protest?”
The London mayor added that it was important, however, not to be “unfair” on thousands of young people who did follow the two-metre distancing rule at the demonstration.
He told LBC that no police officers were seriously injured at the protest, though there was some spitting and throwing objects, and that 13 arrests were made.
As a message to those behaving unlawfully at protests, he said: “You are detracting from us talking about the issue of George Floyd’s brutal death.”