In a plague year, such as the one the globe is still enduring, responsible protest is more difficult. There are matters which people legitimately want to raise by standing together. In the UK, the particular case in point is the recent vigil remembering the murdered Sarah Everard and the recriminations about the apparently heavy handed way the Metropolitan Police responded.
However, we are in a plague year. In the photos I saw, pretty much everyone seemed to be wearing a mask. However, they were tightly packed together. Unless an awful lot of hair dye was being used, I’d also guess that many of the protesters were on the younger end of things and probably, like me, as yet unvaccinated. The virus doesn’t care about causes or people; it simply looks for available hosts where it can reproduce and spread further. If there are thousands of people gathered like that, isn’t there a strong likelihood that some will be infected with COVID-19 and pass it on to cause direct and indirect infections? Is it worth letting people die to protest about letting people die?
The Met did appear to be quite heavy handed in the way it has been reported but I understand that a request to hold the vigil had been considered and turned down. I wish there had been a bit more creative thinking and negotiation in the process. Why try to gather thousands of people in a tight space? Why not have thousands spread out over a much larger area? If each protester kept 4m apart they would cover a huge amount of ground in a visible and meaningful protest but they wouldn’t be jeopardising themselves or passers by in their proximity at this time of continued national lockdown.
That idea is offered free to both the protesters and the Met. Let’s honour the right to stage a protest and keep each other safe.