Bassetlaw MP says protests should be about change not an excuse for violence

This week, we witnessed violence outside Parliament and Downing Street during protests over the death of George Floyd in the USA.

By Brendan Clarke-Smith MP
Thursday, 11th June 2020, 7:00 am

I haven’t spoken to a single person who doesn’t find the killing absolutely abhorrent – we all agree there are some serious social problems in the USA that need tackling head-on.

Most of us also realise that whilst we have a lot to be proud of in the UK both with our policing and our move towards a more fair and equal society.

There are always things that can be improved upon and still need looking at.

Brendan Clarke-Smith, MP for Bassetlaw. Photo: London Portrait Photographer-DAV

I respect people’s right to protest and it’s a freedom that has been fought for over the generations.

Without protest we wouldn’t have had votes for women, equal marriage or many things we hold dear in society today.

However, we currently find ourselves up against a global pandemic and having made it past the peak, we will only defeat it by following the rules and the social distancing guidance.

Gathering in large crowds now puts that progress at risk.

The current protests expose BAME groups who are at a greater risk from the virus and statistically there will be people, some of whom probably haven’t even attended a protest, who will die because of the infections spread due to those who did.

There will be many who claim to be attending in ‘solidarity’ and who are regulars at other such protests, such as Extinction Rebellion, Antifa and Socialist Worker.

Some will have chosen to attend simply to cause trouble and to damage public property and attack innocent people.

That is not solidarity.

This takes away from what is an important message about civil rights and does the genuine protesters a disservice.

I saw police being attacked and innocent members of the public being abused.

You cannot protest about the treatment received by people and then mistreat those right in front of you.

The story now should be about what change we can bring about to make sure everybody feels they have an equal place in society.

It should not be about irresponsible protests, violence or further confrontation.