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Organisers urge protesters to stay safe at Glasgow and Edinburgh Black Lives Matter rallies

© Kenny Brown/ShutterstockA Black Lives Matter protest.
A Black Lives Matter protest.

Organisers of anti-racism rallies being staged in Scotland today have urged protesters to wear masks and stay socially distanced.

Thousands are expected to attend events in Edinburgh and Glasgow despite appeals from officials to stay away.

The rallies in support of the Black Lives Matter movement come amid worldwide protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis which are now heading into their second weekend amid public anger at police over his death.

Barrington Reeves, one of the organisers of today’s protest in Glasgow, said: “We are asking people to come out and show solidarity with the movement. We all know the terrible things that have happened in the US. This is an opportunity for us to look inwards at the racism and prejudices which exist in Scotland.”

© Jae C Hong/AP/Shutterstock
Member of the National Guard stands in front of a mural depicting George Floyd in Los Angeles

Mr Reeves, 28, added: “We are asking people to arrive in a mask. If they don’t have one, stewards will be on hand to provide one.”

Edinburgh In Solidarity For Black Lives Matter said its event in Holyrood Park would be a “peaceful static protest with speeches and performances from black organisers and artists”.

They urged attendees to bring masks, gloves and hand sanitiser and said social distancing “will be enforced”.

The Glasgow rally begins at noon with the Edinburgh event starting at 1pm. Organisers predict crowds of over 2,000 people at each.

Thousands of protesters gathered at events yesterday including Leicester, Manchester and Parliament Square in London.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that in “normal times I may well have been planning to join a gathering of support this weekend”.

She added: “But coming together in mass gatherings right now is simply not safe. It poses a real risk to health and it poses a real risk to life.”

She encouraged people to protest in different ways, including online or by lobbying politicians.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Unfortunately, the threat of Covid-19 is still with us and I must urge people not to attend mass gatherings.”

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Kenny MacDonald said: “I would ask those wishing to protest not to gather in large groups but instead please find an alternative.”

The sister of a man who died in police custody in Scotland will take part in a virtual protest online today.

Kadi Johnson, sister of Sheku Bayoh, will be joined by participants including Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, Anas Sarwar MSP and the Bayoh family lawyer Aamer Anwar.

Mr Bayoh died after being restrained by police in Kirkcaldy five years ago. None of the officers involved ever faced prosecution.