AFTER last Wednesday’s massive march demanding justice for George Floyd, over a quarter of a million people in the UK have intervened in the struggle in the US and signed a petition demanding the UK stop arming the American police with tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields.
The petition is growing at a rate of a thousand signatures a minute, according to the ‘Change.org’ site yesterday afternoon.
The Tories are coming under public and political pressure amid concerns that riot gear from the UK is being used on peaceful protesters and journalists in the US.
The protests against police brutality and racism have been sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of US cops.
The UK also provides Israel with the same types of equipment which the Israelis then use to oppress Palestine’s people and occupy their lands.
The viral petition comes as a group of MPs is also calling on the government to demand a halt to the exports. The list of MPs, co-ordinated by Labour MP Dawn Butler, will be published on Friday. Human rights campaigners add that where there is clear misuse of equipment, the UK is obliged by law to halt exports.
The petition, started by Mike West, says: ‘The UK cannot support a continuous breach of human rights and supply the USA with tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields that are being used against protesters.
‘By continuing the sale of these items, the UK is choosing profit over human rights and is unacceptable. Government records show it grants export licences worth millions of pounds for the sale of anti-crowd gas, riot equipment and other small arms to the US – but the government’s own rules say such exports should not go ahead where they are likely to be used for “internal repression”.’
Meanwhile, George Floyd’s family lawyer Benjamin Crump said in a statement: ‘With Officer Chauvin we believe it should be first degree murder.’
Crump was reacting to the news that the charge against the officer who killed George Floyd has been elevated from third to second degree murder.
First and second-degree murder under Minnesota law require proof that the defendant intended to kill.
First-degree in most cases requires premeditation, with second-degree more related to crimes of passion.
A third-degree murder conviction would not require proof that the defendant wanted the victim to die, only that their actions were dangerous and were carried out without regard to human life.
The three police officers involved with the death of George Floyd have now been charged as accomplices to murder.
However, Crump says that Officer Chauvin should be charged with murder in the first degree and that the three other officers should also be held accountable for that crime.
Crump said: ‘We are relieved that they have been upgraded to second degree murder, but the attorney general has informed the family that the investigation is ongoing and if there is evidence to support a first degree murder conviction they will charge it.
‘And so the family is relieved that Attorney General Keith Ellison, who has a track record for championing civil rights has moved expeditiously and arrested these officers before we memorialise George Floyd tomorrow here in Minnesota.
‘The family has always maintained that all four of the officers should be arrested for this horrific killing of Quincey’s father. The charges against the officers should be an aiding and abetting charge to the murder, or it should be a felony murder of some kind.
‘Because we know if you cooperate or participate in the commission of a crime, then you can be held accountable for that crime as well.
‘They do it to minorities all the time. So we want equal justice in America.’
Quincey Mason, George Floyd’s son, said: ‘I am here with my family and we demand justice. My father should not have been killed like this. We want justice.’
A section of the 35,000-strong crowd in Hyde Park yesterday angry at the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis