NICOLA Sturgeon has urged people not to attend mass Black Lives Matter protests in Scotland this weekend because of the coronavirus crisis. 

The First Minister said she wanted Scots to make their voices heard – but to do so safely.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf earlier said police will take a "proportionate response" and "appropriately facilitate" protest but may "ask people to disperse and, if necessary, they can enforce that request".

It came as Scotland's top police officer called the scenes of police brutality in the US "abhorrent".

Speaking during her daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: "In normal times I may well have been planning to join a gathering of support this weekend but coming together in mass gatherings right now is simply not safe.

"It poses a real risk to health and poses a real risk to life."

Protests have erupted across the US and around the world following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd.

Mr Floyd, 46, died after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25.

Videos showing scenes of police brutality in the US have since provoked widespread outrage. 

Ms Sturgeon said people should pay attention to the joint statement issued by Kadijartu Johnson - whose brother Sheku Bayoh died in police custody in Scotland - lawyer and campaigner Aamer Anwar, Mr Yousaf and Labour MSP Anas Sarwar.

It asks people to protest in different ways, such as online or via donations.

Mr Bayoh died aged 32 in 2015 after being restrained by officers responding to a call in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

His sister - who is a nurse - said her family would have attended planned demonstrations in Scotland this weekend but the danger of spreading coronavirus is "still too great".

Elsewhere, Police Scotland's Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told the briefing officers are in touch with the organisers of some of the planned events this weekend, which include demonstrations in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

He said: "Racism in all of its forms is utterly disgraceful and unacceptable.

"As with the First Minister, I also fully understand the desire of people in Scotland to make their voices heard this weekend over racial injustice."

Speaking about some of the behaviour of US police, Mr Livingstone said: "I find a number of those scenes absolutely abhorrent.

"I don't recognise some of the scenes we've seen from the United States as reflecting how the police service of Scotland conducts its business.

"I would also make a fundamental point that any police organisation anywhere in the world is representative of, and reflects, the society that they are drawn from."

He added: "As the First Minister has made clear - and I fully endorse and understand - this country of Scotland is not without racism. This country of Scotland is not without racial injustice.

"But it doesn't reflect the history of slavery and the history of racial prejudice that does exist in the United States so I don't expect police officers in Scotland to act in any way in some of the more extreme and very distressing scenes that we've seen from various parts of the United States."

He urged people to follow the Covid-19 regulations and guidance, and said they should not attend mass gatherings.

Mr Livingstone said: "Our duty in policing is to enable you to have your voice heard in a way that is safe for you and safe for others.

"So please do this in a way that does not risk spreading coronavirus."

Earlier, Mr Yousaf said anti-racism demonstrations in Scotland should be policed with "common sense" and proportionately.

Although urging people not to attend the protests planned across Scotland this weekend, Mr Yousaf said police will allow the rallies to go ahead.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said if people take to the streets in large gatherings "then police will take a proportionate response and appropriately facilitate that protest but ask people to disperse and, if necessary, they can enforce that request".