Police disperse group of 40 people performing 'Hokey Cokey' in park

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read

Watch: Police disperse crowd of 40 people performing 'Hokey Cokey' in park

Police have dispersed a group of 40 people performing the “Hokey Cokey” as part of a “stand for freedom” protest in an East Sussex park.

Footage captured the group singing and holding hands in a circle on an area of grass in Alexandra Park, Hastings, on Sunday morning.

Adults and children who took part in the dance routine could be seen running “in and out” and singing “oh, the Hokey Cokey”.

The gathering appeared to be organised by the group A Stand In The Park, which shared posts of the event on its Facebook page.

Read: Police hand out £70k fines at two Mayfair parties

According to the page, the group, which has chapters in countries around the world, is “making a stand for freedom”.

But Sussex Police reportedly dispersed the event after they were made aware of the gathering.

The force told local news outlet The Argus that officers engaged with the people to encourage them to follow the government’s lockdown rules.

Footage captured the group signing and holding hands in a circle on an area of grass in Alexandra Park, Hastings on Saturday morning. (BBC Sussex)
Footage captured the group signing and holding hands in a circle on an area of grass in Alexandra Park, Hastings, on Saturday morning. (BBC Sussex)

Sussex Police said no enforcement was necessary and that no fines were handed out since the crowd voluntarily dispersed.

It comes as coronavirus infection rates in the Hastings area continue to fall – with the current rate of cases per 100,000 people at 27, according to the latest government figures.

Most areas in the south of England currently have a rate of between 10 and 49, the figures show.

This is compared to 167 per 100,000 in Derbyshire Dales, the highest rate in the country, followed by 164 in Redditch and 159 in Kingston upon Hull.

While the rate in Hastings is relatively low compared with many other local authorities in the UK, it is one of the highest rates in East Sussex, alongside Lewes with 28.

As cases fall, Britons are waiting for the next rounds of lockdown lifting, expected on 29 March and 12 April.

However, England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty recently said there were still risks to reopening society and authorities continue to urge the public to abide by COVID regulations.

Watch: Four men fined £800 over lockdown trip to 'look at snow'

Speaking to the Commons Science and Technology Committee last week, Prof Whitty urged caution, warning the vaccine is not a "get-out-of-jail-free card".

Police forces across the UK have been shutting down lockdown-breaking parties and gatherings.

Earlier this month, a police officer was knocked unconscious and seven others were injured while shutting down an illegal lockdown party at a property in Walworth, south London.

The Met Police also handed out £70,000 worth of fines after shutting down two parties in one of London's most expensive neighbourhoods that were taking place less than 500m apart.

A total of 70 guests were caught at the two illegal gatherings in Mayfair in the early hours of 28 February.

Other events that have been shut down in London include a party of 200 in Beauchamp Place in Chelsea and a wedding of 150 people at a school in Stamford Hill.

Sussex Police said in a statement to The Argus: "We were made aware of a gathering of about 40 people in Alexandra Park, Hastings, on Sunday morning.

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"Officers attended to engage with those present, explaining the government’s coronavirus regulations and encouraging people to follow them.

"The group engaged with officers and voluntarily dispersed so no enforcement action was required.

"The government’s coronavirus regulations are in place to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.

"We will continue to use the four Es – engaging, explaining, encouraging and, where necessary and proportionate, enforcing."

Yahoo News has contacted Sussex Police for comment.

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