London police officer tells woman that swastika placard at pro-Palestinian protest should be ‘taken in context’

A London Metropolitan Police officer told a Jewish woman that a swastika is only antisemitic depending on the “context” it is used in after she complained about a placard being displayed during a pro-Palestinian march in London yesterday.

In video footage shared online, the woman asks two police officers: “If someone is carrying a sign with a swastika, you said you wouldn’t arrest them on the spot? They’d have to be investigated online?”

In response, the officer standing further back interjects, saying, “A swastika on its own, I don’t think it’s…” to which the woman filming the interaction says “Yes, it is.”

The first officer then tells the woman that she should “go away and have a look at” the Public Order Act legislation, as “it’s all about it it’s something likely to cause vast alarm and distress,” apparently suggesting that a swastika placard may not fit the legal definition of disturbing the public order.

Asked why he believes that displaying a swastika at a pro-Palestinian march could be deemed anything other than antisemitic, the officer says, “Everything needs to be taken in context, doesn’t it?”

Pushed again to explain a context in which the swastika can be displayed in a way that isn’t antisemitic, the officer tells the woman that he doesn’t have “an in-depth knowledge of signs and symbols.”

He does admit, however, that he knows “the swastika was used by the Nazi party during their inception and the period of them being in power in Germany in 1934.”

In response to the video of the interaction, the Metropolitan Police says on X, formerly Twitter, that the 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 offense in relation to the placard.”

The police statement does not address the officer’s claims that displaying a swastika is only antisemitic in certain context-specific situations.

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