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UK urged to ban riot gear sales to US after police violence at #BlackLivesMatter protests

Solidarity protests have been held in the UK [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2020

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There are growing calls for the UK to ban sales of riot gear to the US.

There are growing calls in the UK for restrictions on the sale of riot gear and other equipment to US police, after recent acts of police brutality during Black Lives Matter protests.

UK politicians and activist groups are demanding the government end sales of "repressive equipment" to police forces and paramilitary groups in the US, after numerous cases of violence against anti-racism protesters over the past few days.

The uprising was sparked after the strangulation of African-American man George Floyd, after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes leading to his death.

Peaceful demonstrations erupted after George's death have been violently dispersed by riot police in US cities, leading to a number of serious injuries for protesers caused by rubber bullets, tear gas, and baton charges.

This has led groups, such as the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), to call for restrictions on weapon and equipment sales to the US military, security, and police forces.

"The brutal and racist police violence we have seen over recent days has been absolutely appalling, and so has the reckless and totally irresponsible escalation from the President and his colleagues," said Andrew Smith of CAAT in a statement.

"These arms sales should never have been allowed and the government must ensure that they do not happen again. This kind of equipment is always repressive, and it can be deadly. There must be an urgent investigation into what weapons have gone over and if any of them have been used against protesters."

Leading British politicians have also called for restrictions on sales of riot gear to the US after the eruption in police violence at demonstrations.

MP Emily Thornberry, Labour's shadow international trade secretary, wrote to the UK Conservative government calling for the suspension in riot gear sales to the US.

"If this were any other leader, in any other country in the world, the suspension of any such exports is the least we could expect from the British government in response to their actions, and our historic alliance with the United States is no reason to shirk that responsibility now," said Thornberry.

Oxford MP Layla Moran, tipped to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats Party, joined the calls for an embargo on the US police force.

"I contacted @DawnButlerBrent yesterday asking for my name to be added to her letter. The Government must halt the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets, and riot shields to the US. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatterUK," she wrote on Twitter.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer also called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to condemn racism and police brutality in the US.

"The killing of George Floyd has shone a light on racism experienced by many black people in the US and beyond," he tweeted.

"The next time the Prime Minister speaks to President Trump, he must convey to him the UK's abhorrence about his response to the events."

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