UK Police Sergeant Under Criminal Investigation for Sharing George Floyd ‘Meme’

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 03: Graffiti artist Akse spray paints a mural of George Floyd in Manchester's northern quarter on June 03, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. The death of an African-American man, George Floyd, while in the custody of Minneapolis police has sparked protests across the United States, …
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A British sergeant for the Devon and Cornwall Police force is under criminal investigation for sharing an ‘offensive’ meme of George Floyd in a private group message with other officers.

The image of Mr Floyd was reportedly shared by the sergeant on May 30th, five days after Floyd died in an altercation with police in the United States. The meme was flagged by a fellow officer — like the Sergeant facing the allegations, also reported by a local news source to be of white ethnicity — and is now being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to determine whether it was motivated by racism.

The content of the meme was or why it was deemed as offensive has not been revealed. The force is responsible for policing in the Devon and Cornwall area, one of England’s most rural regions, least densely populated, and least racially diverse. It is a popular holiday destination for wealthy Londoners and residents from the densely-packed south-east region. According to the 2011 census, 95 per cent of full-time residents of Devon and Cornwall are white British, compared to less than 80 per cent in the whole of England.

The Regional Director for the IOPC, Catrin Evans said: “It will be of considerable public concern that such an image was apparently shared among colleagues by a serving police officer. We are criminally investigating the sergeant who allegedly shared the image, and examining the conduct of some others involved in the group.”

“Our investigators will be considering whether the sharing of this image was motivated by racial discrimination. Devon and Cornwall Police has rightly promptly referred it to the IOPC, and I would like to assure people we are conducting a thorough and independent investigation,” Evans added per Devon Live.

The IOPC is also investigating the officer for gross misconduct, and he has been suspended while the investigation is carried out. Other members of the WhatsApp message group are being investigated as well over what they allegedly said in response to the meme and their supposed failure to report their fellow officer.

Devon and Cornwall Police Assistant Chief Constable Jim Nye said: “Devon & Cornwall Police expects the highest standards of behaviour from all its staff when on and off duty at all times.

“Devon & Cornwall Police wholly appreciate the concern our communities will have regarding an investigation of this kind, I would reassure them that I, and the chief constable, will do everything possible to ensure the matter is dealt with effectively and in a timely manner.

“It would be inappropriate to make any judgement or further comment at this stage, but is only right that we show openness and transparency with our communities on this matter, so will continue to work closely with the IOPC during the coming days and weeks.”

Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom has codified the notion of ‘hate speech’ into law, criminalising offensive speech.

In 2016, police arrested 3,395 people across the country for violations of section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, which prohibits British citizens from intentionally causing “annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another.”

British police created a database of so-called “non-hate crime incidents“, logging over 87,000 instances of supposedly hateful acts, even though the offences are not actually crimes.

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