Finland’s Parliamentary Ombudsman has criticised two police officers who posed with a Black Lives Matter (BLM) sign at a protest last year, saying the move was contrary to police impartiality.
The incident took place at a demonstration in June 2020 in Helsinki and saw two uniformed officers hold up BLM signs and pose for photographs with protesters.
Parliamentary Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen released a statement saying while he did not believe that the police were actively participating in the demonstration, their actions were contrary to the rules of neutrality and impartiality expected of officers, YLE reports.
“In my opinion, it is incompatible with the image of police impartiality that the police officers who were monitoring the demonstration had agreed to the photographs while holding signs made for the demonstration. A policeman supervising a demonstration should not take a stand for or against the demonstration, but should remain neutral,” the Ombudsman said.
UK Establishment Caves to BLM as MPs, Police Chief, Take a Knee; Church Prepares Racism Apology https://t.co/lk5KYY4eHS
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 10, 2020
The Ombudsman received at least 16 complaints over the actions of the two officers last year, many of which claimed they had violated rules by participating in the BLM demonstration.
In his decision, Ombudsman Jääskeläinen noted that police were more limited in their freedom of expression and their freedom of conduct while in uniform compared to their private lives.
“What is allowed in private life, such as participation in party politics, cannot always come into play while fulfilling official activities,” he said.
Last June in Sweden, a similar incident took place when a uniformed female police officer took a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement during a protest in Stockholm.
Ennalta estävän toiminnon konstaapelit Janne ja Harri turvaamassa #BlackLivesMatterFinland mielenosoitusta. Osallistuja oli niin paljon, että tartuntavaaran vuoksi oli järkevää päättää kokous@HelsinkiPoliisi jatkaa työtä yhdenvertaisuuden edistämiseksi!
(Kuva: Habiba Ali pic.twitter.com/a1tIDpI5uL
— Jari Taponen (@JariTaponen) June 3, 2020
Earlier this month in the United Kingdom a female uniformed officer was heard chanting “Free, Free Palestine!” alongside anti-Israel protesters in London. Footage also revealed the officer saying that she would be joining the protest if she had not been in her uniform and on duty.
The Metropolitan Police later said it would be launching an investigation into the incident, stating: “While officers are encouraged to positively engage with those attending demonstrations, they know they are not to actively participate or adopt political positions.”