Police urge public to "seriously consider whether a protest is the right thing to do" in Northampton town centre protest this weekend due to Covid restrictions
A mass protest in town is set to take place outside the BBC Radio Northampton building in Abington Street at 1pm this Saturday (April 3)
Police have responded to a planned mass protest set to take place in Northampton town centre this Bank Holiday weekend.
The force is calling for people to "seriously consider" whether it is the "right thing to do" during the Covid crisis.
The planned peaceful demonstration is to oppose new laws which would give police more powers to crack down on protests. It is also in support of safer streets following the Sarah Everard murder, which saw the London woman killed while walking home at night.
Both the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and Sarah Everard issues have proved extremely controversial, with protests and vigils taking place around the country.
A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the protest and are currently trying to work with the event organisers to balance people’s lawful right to protest with the continuing and very real need to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
"We continue to try and proactively engage with the organisers.
“Clearly this is a very emotive issue – the death of Sarah Everard has shocked so many people, including us, and we want to facilitate people in paying their respects.
“However, this does need to be done in the current climate with mindfulness of the global pandemic and we would ask people to seriously consider whether a protest is the right thing to do at this time."
Extinction Rebellion Northampton (XR), whose members are set to be attending, have responded to the police's comment.
An XR Northampton spokesman said: “This is a self-organising event against the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently making its way through parliament. There are no “organisers” for the police to approach.
"The coronavirus regulations now permit protests outdoors where safety guidelines are kept, including social distancing and the wearing of masks.
"It is absolutely right for individuals to stand up for their democratic rights. This bill will affect everyone in our society in some way and it is understandable that people feel passionate about opposing it.
"It would make no sense at all to wait until the bill has been brought into law before trying to oppose it and so it must be opposed immediately.”