The London Metropolitan Police have come under fire after footage emerged showing officers from the Territorial Support Group (TSG) berating a journalist for filming them apprehending an individual at a park in the UK capital.
The incident, which reportedly took place in Finsbury Park, North London on April 5, was caught on camera by the journalist in question – Michael Segalov – and was posted on Twitter on Thursday. The footage shows officers hurriedly taking a woman to a TSG van with Segalov capturing the action from a distance.
The journalist’s presence appears to irritate the police, and a number of officers could be seen confronting him – themselves possibly violating the two-meter social distancing rule.
One officer was particularly aggressive with the 26-year-old, apparently uninterested in the fact that he was stopping a journalist from carrying out his job, shouting: “You’re killing people. Go home.” The TSG are meant to deal with rioting and public order containment.
The other week journalist @MikeSegalov got hassled and shouted at by the police for filming an incident in a park. Here’s the footage. Not a good look for the police – breaking social distancing rules by surrounding him and wrongly shouting at a journalist to go home. pic.twitter.com/BKXSXbE6Gm
According to guidance published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), journalists are considered to be “key workers” just like frontline healthcare staff, because there is a “public interest in keeping the population informed” during the Covid-19 crisis.
Furthermore, police are instructed to “engage with [journalists] if officers are unsure” why they are outside. It would appear that this particular group of police officers didn’t get the memo in terms of finding out the facts.
Many people on social media have been angered by the behavior of these law enforcement officers. Some suggested that this type of “horrifying” interaction with the police was all too common during the current lockdown.
The officers’ conduct was described as “utterly unacceptable levels of aggression, rudeness, arrogance,” and even “Orwellian” by commenters on Twitter.
People are allowed out of their homes to work if they cannot do their work at home. This Orwellian ‘you are killing people if you are outside’ fundamentalism needs to be challenged. It is being applied far too enthusiastically by those who like wielding power over others.
The London Metropolitan Police have acknowledged that the incident did take place and confirmed that “a complaint has been received in relation to that interaction which is currently being considered.”
The UK police have been accused of engaging in authoritarian methods on multiple occasions since the UK government enforced lockdown measures.
Cambridgeshire Police were heavily criticized for suggesting that they were monitoring shoppers’ baskets for “non-essential” items in supermarkets.
Last weekend, a video showing at least four officers barging into one man’s home after allegedly receiving a call about a “disturbance” went viral. The unmasked, mostly ungloved officers attempted to justify smashing down the man’s door and poking around his flat for the sake of “social distancing,” but rowed back after appearing to realize he was alone.
Police have admitted two wrongful convictions under new coronavirus laws, as a number of cases are reviewed.
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