Great Britain

Emily Thornberry urges government to stop selling riot gear to US if it’s used to ‘attack unarmed protesters and journalists’

Islington Assembly Hall was lit purple on June 2 in a show of solidarity with George Floyd, who was killed when a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. Picture: Islington Council

Islington Assembly Hall was lit purple on June 2 in a show of solidarity with George Floyd, who was killed when a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. Picture: Islington Council

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Emily Thornberry has urged the government to immediately stop exporting riot gear to the US – if it’s being used to “attack unarmed protesters and journalists” in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Emily Thornberry MP at her constituancy office in Barnsbury Street. Picture: Polly HancockEmily Thornberry MP at her constituancy office in Barnsbury Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

The shadow international trade secretary notes the UK government recently issued licence for export of anti-riot ballistic shields, anti-riot guns, electric shock devices and tear gas to the US.

Islington South & Finsbury’s MP says all such exports should be halted until the government can guarantee they’re not being turned against protesters in cities across the US.

Thousands have taken to the street demanding justice in response to George Floyd, an unarmed black man, dying after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.

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Islington Council lit the Upper Street assembly hall up purple on June 2 in a show of solidarity with Mr Floyd and his family, and as a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ms Thornberry said: “If British-made riot control equipment is being used to attack unarmed protesters and journalists in the US, those exports must immediately be stopped. We cannot be a party to the violence of the American president against his own people.”

In a letter to international trade secretary Liz Truss, she added: “At a time when Donald Trump is gearing up to use the military to crush legitimate protests taking place across America over the murder of Black civilians, it would be a disgrace for the UK to supply him with the arms and equipment he will use to do so.”

A government spokesperson said: “We take our export responsibilities seriously and assess export licence applications in accordance with strict licensing criteria.”

A Stand Up To Racism demo is due to take place outside the town hall on June 3.

The police officer who forcibly detained Mr Floyd, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with murder in the third degree and manslaughter.

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