In the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in the UK, police officers under the authority of Hertfordshire Constabulary have been told that taking the knee is optional but reminded that refusing to kneel before protesters could lead to escalations.
In their message, the police force insisted that kneeling “has a very positive and engaging effect” and that, when done by police officers, it “has a positive reaction on the protest groups.”
While some officers are more than happy to bend the knee during protests, others have expressed their concerns and suggested that law enforcers shouldn’t be ‘picking sides.’
One official who expressed his concerns over officers taking the knee is David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, who suggested the gesture could undermine the authority of the police during protests.
“I am concerned that the gesture of kneeling, though prompted by the best instincts, might give the perception of undermining the role of the police in such situations,” he expressed.
“They are there to ensure a safe demonstration, not to make political statements.”
As the former Home Secretary added, people might feel “uneasy” to see police officers in uniforms kneeling before protesters.
“If they attend rallies in their own time, I would have no problem with police making symbolic gestures of solidarity with anti-racists. But it is a different matter when they don their uniform,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, people around the globe have been taking the knee to show support for black people following the unwarranted death of George Floyd who died after fired officer Derek Chauvin had been kneeling on his neck for several minutes.
Since Floyd’s death, Chauvin has been fired and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter whereas his wife has filed for a divorce.
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