Home Secretary: Priti Patel.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, not known for mincing her words, has condemned the violence in Bristol, on Sunday. Clashes took place between the police and demonstrators. The police say, however, that they are not surprised by what happened, as many will want to vent frustrations over what seems like, a never-ending-lockdown.
Since last year's anti-BLM/BLM protests to 'Kill the Bill' protests (specifically talking about the government's anti-protest bill, not the police!) and now, the Sarah Everard vigils, the right to lawful gatherings is still permitted. However, these gatherings have to be agreed with the police who have to enforce the government's stringent COVID regulations. These gatherings have to cooperate with the police and have stewards from their own side, making sure gatherings comply, with COVID regs.
However, at many of these gatherings, protests, vigils, etc, a number of people infiltrate them to cause trouble. Whether they be far-left groups or far-right, anarchists, they will deliberately, seek out confrontation with law enforcement.
Sadly, this happened at the Sarah Everard vigil, where the police pinned a woman to the floor, and this image was flashed all around the world. It made the police look like law enforcement from other places in the world, where despotic regimes, do not tolerate gatherings of any kind.
At the Sarah Everard vigil, when scuffles broke out, the police had to intervene and it made them look like oppressors. The police are damned if they do something and damned if they don't. They have to walk a tightrope of being enforcers of the law, while at the same time, trying not to be too heavy-handed. A commissioned report into police handling of the Sarah Everard vigil said the police were lawfully doing their job, in a calm, professional manner. Two things the report criticised the police for:
1) That the police were not very mindful in their responses, to criticism of their handling of the Sarah Everad vigil.
2) The fact that to quote Led Zeppelin, there had been a 'communication breakdown' between the police on the ground and their commanders.
The government too is walking a tightrope, it has been accused in the past of having authoritarian tendencies. So, therefore, with the COVID regulations, it is still allowing lawful protest but is expecting those gathering, to abide by the COVID regs. Unfortunately, when these gatherings are not abiding by the COVID regs or trouble breaks out, the police have to intervene.
The government could have been bloody-minded and not have cared, two hoots, what the public think and banned gatherings, outright. But maybe, that would have inflamed tensions between the public and the police more. It is understandable, why many of the public are flouting the law, but at the same time, they are not helping themselves, when it comes to COVID regs or spreading the virus.
If we get to the part of Boris's so-called 'Roadmap to Freedom' and every restriction is lifted, there will be a tide of humanity, trying to live life as normal as possible. More people will have had the jab by then, and so that will bode well, as we get into late summer. However, masks and social distancing may still be in place.
There is one thing to remember, although deaths and infections are down in the UK, Europe especially, France, is taking a hard hit yet again, thanks to COVID. As Boris rightly points out, this third wave could hit our shores, any time. There are still variants out there and now and again, the vaccine will have to be tweaked, to keep up with these variants.
Therefore then, yes it's great we are gradually coming up out of this lockdown, but we must not get complacent either.