Thousands of anti-racism protestors are set to attend demonstrations across the UK this weekend – despite government warnings that such mass gatherings are banned under the coronavirus lockdown.
Rallies will be held in cities including London, Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle and Leicester with supporters demanding an end to institutional discrimination.
The 46-year-old died after a white police officer pressed a knee onto his neck for nine minutes – despite the former bouncer being unarmed and not appearing to resist arrest.
The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with murder.
Although Black Lives Matter protests have already been held in London and Birmingham this week, the weekend gatherings are expected to be the biggest yet.
In the capital, attendees will converge on Parliament Square on Saturday and then at the US Embassy on Sunday.
But ministers say that, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, such mass rallies will not only be unlawful but a risk to public health
Speaking at the daily Downing Street press briefing on Friday evening, health secretary Matt Hancock said he was "appalled" by the death of Mr Floyd but stressed that coronavirus rules remained in place.
"I understand why people are deeply upset but we are still facing a health crisis and coronavirus remains a real threat,” he said.
"The reason that it is vital that people stick to the rules this weekend is to protect themselves and their family from this horrific disease.
"So please, for the safety of your loved ones, do not attend large gatherings including demonstrations of more than six people."
His comments were echoed by home secretary Priti Patel who posted on Twitter that people should not gather in groups larger than six.
She added: "Please for the safety of all of us, do not attend large gatherings – including protests – of more than six people this weekend…
“Coronavirus remains a real threat and people must protect themselves and their families from this horrific disease."
In the US, protests are now entering their second weekend with police there accused of widespread brutality against demonstrators.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies