First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged those protesting over the death of George Floyd to find an alternative to physical gatherings.
Speaking at her daily briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said she sympathised with those looking to protest after the 46-year-old African American man died in police custody in the US state of Minnesota, but warned of the risks from large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Floyd, whose death was captured by onlookers on their phones, could be heard pleading for air as a police officer was seen kneeling on his neck in the city of Minneapolis.
One of the officers involved, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third degree murder and manslaughter and is due in court next week.
As a result, protests have sprung up across the United States – where 5,600 arrests have been made – and internationally.
The First Minister, who expressed her solidarity with those looking to take part in protests honouring Mr Floyd, said they should look to alternatives to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
She said: “Right now, it is the case, unfortunately and regrettably, that large gatherings of people could pose a risk to health and indeed to life.
“Unfortunately, that’s the case whether it is a peaceful protest or a football match or any other gathering where people are coming together in close proximity.
“What I would say to those who want to protest, and I say this as an ally and supporter, is that we need to find ways of allowing people to make their voices heard and to make the points that many of us want to be made and to be heard right now but to do so in a way that is safe and is not putting people protesting or wider communities at risk.”
Ms Sturgeon said protesters should look at ways that would allow them to send a “very strong and unequivocal message” safely.
The First Minister added that the Scottish Government, as well as “authorities at local level”, will be willing to offer guidance to protesters about what they can do.
She added: “Everybody, and I know people the length and breadth of the country and I include myself in this number, feel extremely strongly about these issues.
“Let me say none of us, no country, no society, is immune from racism and we all have issues to look in the mirror about and confront.
“All of us feel a very strong desire to stand in solidarity with those protesting racism and to make it clear that this is an evil that has no place in our society.”
Police Scotland’s chief constable Iain Livingstone said he is “shocked and distressed” by the situation in the US.
In a statement, Mr Livingstone said the “disgraceful and unacceptable” racism being seen in the United States does not “reflect our style of policing in Scotland”.
He said: “We continue to value the strong bond of trust with all our citizens and communities.
“That trust is based on mutual respect and an absolute commitment to public service.”
Mr Livingstone said he was aware of anti-racism demonstrations planned in Scotland but added: “We would encourage everyone to continue to follow the Scottish Government’s regulations and guidance on meeting outdoors, and we will engage with organisers to minimise any risk to public safety.”