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WATCH: Met Police Officer Tells Jewish Woman Swastikas Should Be ‘Taken in Context’ at Anti-Israel Rally

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Kurt Zindulka

London’s Metropolitan Police has come under criticism after footage emerged showing an officer telling a Jewish woman that swastikas seen at a pro-Palestinian protest should be “taken in context”.

A clip shared widely online appeared to show a London police officer suggesting that under certain circumstances swastikas paraded in public could be legal, despite Britain’s tough restrictions on so-called hate speech.

In the clip filmed at a pro-Palestinian rally on Saturday, the officer was heard telling a Jewish woman: “I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of signs and symbols. I know the swastika was used by the Nazi party during their inception and the period of them being in power in Germany in 1934… I’m aware of that.”

“So under what context is a swastika not disrupting public order? Could you just explain under what symbol that is not disrupting public order?” the woman asks.

“I haven’t said anything about it that it is or it isn’t. Everything needs to be taken in context doesn’t it,” the officer replied.

“I’m confused about in what context a swastika is not anti-Semitic. This is what I want to know,” the exasperated woman shot back.

“Why is a swastika not immediately anti-Semitism? Why does it need context? This is what I’m confused about. This isn’t even about Israel. In what context is a swastika not anti-Semitic and disruptive to public order?” she questioned.

“I suppose to some I don’t know how everybody would feel about that sign. Now if you came up to me and you felt mass alarm and distress about a symbol that someone was…” the officer responded.

The officer then told the woman that he would not leave his position and that it was not his responsibility to “walk down the road” to where the woman claimed the Swastika was being displayed.

After the publication of the interaction, the Metropolitan Police claimed that in the full conversation, the officer had told the woman that the person in question had been arrested by another officer. A total of four people were reportedly arrested during the pro-Palestinian demonstration on Saturday.

A Met spokesman said: “We’re aware of an online clip from today’s protest in central London showing an interaction between an officer and a woman during which there is an exchange over concern around protestors displaying offensive banners, including swastikas.

“The online clip is a short excerpt of what was a 10-minute conversation with the officer. During the full conversation, the officer establishes that the person the woman was concerned about had already been arrested for a public order offence in relation to a placard.

“The officer then offered to arrange for other officers to attend and accompany the woman to identify any other persons she was concerned about amongst the protestors, but after turning to speak to his supervisor, she then unfortunately left.

“We take hate crime and public order offences very seriously and a number of people were arrested during today’s protest for hate crimes, public order and terrorist offences. We are also gathering and assessing evidence with a view to making further arrests where we identify any other offences.”

Nevertheless, the exchange has sparked a furious backlash, including from the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which described the interaction as “absolutely gobsmacking”.

A spokesman from the campaign group told the Daily Mail: “The very notion that a British police officer could imagine a context in which the Nazi swastika is an acceptable image to be displayed in public is distressing enough, but for him to be uncertain about its meaning in the context of a march oozing with anti-Semitic rhetoric and signage is an indictment of the Met.

“This is less the fault of a solitary officer than it is of Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, who has bent over backwards to rationalise and ‘contextualise’ calls for violent Jihad and genocidal chanting.

“If Sir Mark disagrees with this officer’s assessment, he should come out and say so and explain what training he will provide to his officers to ensure that they are clear that Nazism is bad.

“But if he agrees that the swastika is context-dependent, let him tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Britons who gave their lives to prevent that despicable symbol from ever being flown on the streets of London.”

 

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