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London Police Tell Woman Swastikas at Anti-Israel Protests Need to Be “Taken into Context”

Anti-Israel protests in London, March 30, 2024. news.sky.com
Anti-Israel protests in London, March 30, 2024. news.sky.com

On Saturday, an observer at one of the almost weekly anti-Israel protests in the British capital was told by an attending police officer that a demonstrator displaying a swastika was, “not necessarily antisemitic or a disruption of public order.”

Claiming that “everything needs to be taken into context,” two members of the London Metropolitan Police argued with the concerned individual, a woman with a North American accent, over enforcement of the United Kingdom’s Public Order Act. The law generally forbids the display of the offensive symbol.

An unidentified woman argues with a London police officer about whether or not a swastika being displayed at an anti-Israel protest is antisemitic. twitter.com

In a viral video of the encounter, the woman responded to the officer’s statement by asking “Why is a swastika not immediately antisemitism? 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 antisemitic and disruptive to public order?”

The officer responded to this inquiry by telling her that “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.”

The woman then offered to walk with the officer to the location of the apparent legal violation, but the request was refused as he described it as not being his responsibility. She expressed further disappointment that other cops refused to assist her as well.

Defending the actions of their personnel, a law enforcement representative told reporters that the video in question was not a full accounting of the episode, and that “During the full conversation, the officer establishes that the person the woman was concerned about had already been arrested for a public order offense in relation to a placard.”

When asked to comment, a spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism told The Daily Mail that "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 antisemitic rhetoric and signage is an indictment of the [London Metropolitan Police].

The organization continued by also assigning responsibility for the incident to the Police Commissioner, Mark Rowley, who they said, “has bent over backwards to rationalize and 'contextualize' calls for violent Jihad and genocidal chanting.”

Rowley has been accused by Jewish groups of downplaying abusive presentations at similar events.

Since the October 7 massacre in southern Israel, the U.K. has seen regular pro-Palestinian marches throughout the country, with many of the gatherings having more than 100,000 people. Local authorities have estimated that this latest event had over 200,000 participants.

The demonstrations have frequently included displays of overt antisemitism and comparisons of the Jewish state to Nazi-era Germany.

Related Story: Threats Over Gaza Cause British Government to Increase Lawmaker Security

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