WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Black Lives Matter (BLM) organizers are ignoring Wuhan virus restrictions as they plan their next demonstration.
Despite a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people issued by the Democratic mayor of Washington D.C., Muriel Bowser, BLM is organizing a massive protest that may exceed 100,000 people, according to a permit application.
Billed as the "March on Washington, 2020," protesters are instructed to gather at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, the same date and location where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech.
Even people sympathetic to the cause recognize the hypocrisy of planning a mass gathering and are expressing concerns.
Terrence Ford, a social media user, said on Twitter: "Hear me out. I'm ALL for carrying the torch of our ancestors to march & protest for equal rights. It seems incredibly counterproductive however to do so in the middle of a global pandemic that is already disappropriately [sic] affecting our community."
Ford is referring to the fact that African Americans may be especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Early statistics show that cases among African Americans accounted for 42% of all virus-related deaths.
Scientists warn that the threat to African Americans and Latinos is real. In early July, the New York Times warned of the danger to the two minority communities.
"Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups," the paper reported.
The Washington Post also slammed the march. An editorial suggests the risk is too great:
No! Bringing the coronavirus from all over the United States to D.C. on Aug. 28 would endanger lives — especially lives of vulnerable people of color here. We have worked hard to reduce the impact of the coronavirus in D.C. We are trying to find safe ways for D.C. schoolchildren to engage safely and succeed with a new school year. We absolutely do not need the spike in suffering and death that would accompany this demonstration.
But there are others who feel differently.
A Harvard Medical School infectious disease expert, Dr. Ranu S. Dhillon, calls the protests "risky but necessary — just like working in a nursing home or grocery store."
"Protesting against systemic injustice that is contributing directly to this pandemic is essential," says Dhillon. He urges that people must demonstrate for "the right to live, the right to breathe, the right to walk down the street without police coming at you for no reason."
But the Harvard expert does not believe it's necessary to attend church services, which he compares to participation in recreational activities.
Making the contrast, Dhillon notes, "That's different than me wanting to go to my place of worship on the weekend, me wanting to take my kid on a roller coaster, me wanting to go to brunch with my friends."
On June 1, District of Columbia mayor Muriel E. Bowser, a Democrat, said she was "very concerned" about protests creating a spike in virus cases, but by June 6, she was on the streets with protesters and at one point removed her mask.
The protest is timed to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that drew a crowd estimated at 250,000 people.
The event is spawning satellite demonstrations in other parts of the country as well. Already, activists are organizing in Tallahassee, Florida and Columbus, Ohio, with mass gatherings anticipated in many urban areas on the same day.