In the UK, a police officer has been officially charged for sending an “offensive” George Floyd meme to a WhatsApp group for colleagues. The death of George Floyd last May sparked racial injustice protests worldwide, including the UK.
Sgt. Geraint Jones, of the Devon and Cornwall police force in southwest England, allegedly sent a meme of George Floyd to fellow officers in a WhatsApp group. The meme was sent on May 30, five days after the death of Floyd. The image was reported to higher-ups by a fellow police officer.
We have not been able to obtain a copy of this meme to determine how “offensive” the meme supposedly was.
Jones was suspended in June pending an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). Lacking in any meaningful protections of free speech, it is an offense in the UK to send a message that could be considered “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.”
A police spokesperson said:
“Sergeant Geraint Jones, aged 47, is charged with sending the image on 30 May last year by means of a public electronic communications network, an offense contrary to section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
“An altered image of George Floyd's arrest in Minneapolis was shared within a WhatsApp group that included a number of other police officers and staff.
“Our investigation began in June 2020 following a referral from the force. At its conclusion in October we sent our investigation report to the Crown Prosecution Service, which has authorised the charge.”
Jones will appear in court on January 28.