The policing of the UK’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests this summer was “institutionally racist” and officers used “excessive force”, according to a group that monitors public order policing.
A study by the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) published on Thursday identified “excessive use of force and the disproportionate targeting of black protesters,” during BLM demonstrations in May and June.
Protests were organized in at least 260 places around Britain in the wake of the killing of George Floyd who died in police custody in the US state of Minnesota on May 25. Disturbing footage of his arrest showed an officer kneeling on his neck, despite Floyd saying he could not breathe.
A number of monuments linked to the UK’s colonial past were targeted by the BLM protesters, and in some places, clashes broke out between protesters and right-wing groups who claimed they wanted to protect the statues.
The 56-page report, ‘Britain is Not Innocent’, drew on evidence from over 100 witnesses, including protesters and legal observers about how police handled the marches, the group said.
Among the report’s other key areas of concern is “kettling,” a police tactic where a large number of protestors are enclosed by officers. The publication claimed that under-18s and vulnerable people were confined in this manner without food and water, with no social distancing or access to toilets.Also highlighted are “far right” counter-protestors who, the report claims, launched “racist attacks” on young people. These targeted young people were then “ignored and even criminalized by police.”
“There is a bitter irony in the fact that protests against racism in policing were themselves sites of disproportionate use of force and discriminatory practices,” said the author of the report, Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper.
“Policing in Britain still has a serious problem with institutional racism,”
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