Advertisement

Outrage after Met Police officer says swastikas ‘need to be taken in context’ at pro-Palestine march

Outrage after Met Police officer says swastikas ‘need to be taken in context’ at pro-Palestine march

A Metropolitan Police officer has sparked fury after telling a Jewish woman that swastikas “need to be taken in context” at a pro-Palestine rally.

In footage from Saturday’s Stop the Genocide in Gaza march, a counter-protester confronted officers citing concerns that a person carrying a swastika banner had not been arrested.

After a heated discussion where the officer admitted to not having “in-depth knowledge” about signs and symbols, the woman was asked to alert an officer elsewhere to the prevalence of the symbol.

People taking part in Stop the Genocide in Gaza national demonstration in Trafalgar Square, central London (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)
People taking part in Stop the Genocide in Gaza national demonstration in Trafalgar Square, central London (Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

More than 200,000 people took part in the demonstration on Saturday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, according to estimates by organisers, where crowds marched from Russell Square to Trafalgar Square.

The counter-protester said in the video: “I was told when I asked that a swastika was not necessarily antisemitic or a disruption of public order, that doesn’t seem right to me.”

Impassioned voices in the background can be heard saying “it is” as the woman begs, “Please for the love of god film this.”

The officer started telling the woman about the Public Order Act, to which she asked how the symbol was not disrupting public order.

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

After more pleading from the woman to acknowledge the sign is antisemitic, the officer said he did not have an “in-depth knowledge of signs and symbols” but admitted he knew the symbol was used during Nazi Germany.

He said: “I don’t know how everyone would feel about that sign. If you came up to me and said you feel mass alarm and distressed about a symbol that someone was using.”

The woman interjected and said: “I’m extremely distressed, I’m very alarmed.”

The officer said he could not leave the area for which he was responsible, but advised the woman to go to another police officer. She claimed she had already been sent to his station by another officer after she reported the symbol.

The footage was posted online and received significant backlash on social media platform X.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “This video clip is a short excerpt of what was a 10-minute conversation with an 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 protesters, but after turning to speak to his supervisor, she had unfortunately left.”

The Met said officers arrested a man on the Strand in relation to inviting support for a proscribed organisation.

Three further arrests were made at the march – one person was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and two others were arrested on suspicion of causing harassment, alarm and distress.