Anyone who causes vandalism, criminal damage or assaults police officers during Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests this weekend could be jailed within 24 hours of arrest, it has been reported.
Magistrates have been instructed by Justice Sectary Robert Buckland to extend their opening hours and fast-track cases related the ongoing demonstrations in a similar response used amid the London riots in 2011.
According to plans drawn up by Buckland and Home Secretary Priti Patel, those arrested for violence could then be jailed within just 24 hours in a bid to defuse disorder, The Times reports.
A new consultation will also see the maximum sentence for assaulting emergency workers doubled to two years, the publication adds.
BLM protests erupted across the world following the death of George Floyd, 46, who died on May 25 after Minneapolis white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes during an arrest.
In the UK, more than 130 people have been arrested in connection with the protests, while others have received fines for breaching current coronavirus restrictions. At present, the public can only gather in groups of up to six, and must keep two-metres distance between themselves and anyone not in their household.
More than 60 police officers were also ‘injured in one way or another’ during demonstrations last weekend, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said. This included an officer who was hospitalised after falling from her horse.
There are also concerns that far-right demonstrators will cause disruption amid the BLM protests this weekend as they try to ‘defend’ statues against the crowds. Activists forcibly removed a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol last weekend, after years of discussion saw it remain unchanged.
Earlier this week, a white man was filmed shouting at anti-racism activists ‘why don’t you go back to Africa’ as they demonstrated in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, while witnesses claimed they saw Nazi salutes.
A protest due to take place in Hyde Park this week has now been called off after organisers discovered that ‘many hate groups’ were planning on attending. BLM UK later urged activists to demonstrate in their areas, rather than heading to busy city centres.
Writing on social media, BLM London said of the Hyde Park demonstration: ‘We want the protesters to be a safe space for people to attend. However, we don’t think it will be possible with people like them present.’
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