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Viral petition calls on UK Government to stop sending riot gear to US police

(Stock image)

250,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on the UK Government to urgently halt the export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields from the UK to the US.

The petition is growing at a rate of a thousand signatures a minute, according to the site as of Thursday afternoon.

The Government is coming under public and political pressure amid concerns that riot gear from the UK is being used on peaceful protesters and journalists in the US. The protests against police brutality and racism have been sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The viral petition comes as a group of MPs is also calling on the Government to demand a halt to the exports. The list of MPs, co-ordinated by Labour MP Dawn Butler, will be published on Friday. Human rights campaigners add that where there is clear misuse of equipment, the UK is obliged by law to halt exports.

The petition, started by Mike West, says “The UK cannot support a continuous breach of human rights and supply the USA with tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields that are being used against protestors.

By continuing the sale of these items, the UK is choosing profit over human rights and is unacceptable. Government records show it grants export licences worth millions of pounds for the sale of anti-crowd gas, riot equipment and other small arms to the US – but the government’s own rules say such exports should not go ahead where they are likely to be used for ‘internal repression’”.

Commenting on the petition, Kajal Odedra, UK Executive Director of Change.org, added: “It’s important to remember why these petitions have been started. The petition for justice for George Floyd is now the biggest petition in history with over 15 million signatures, including over a million signatures from the UK.

These staggering numbers show for themselves the strength of feeling people have about George Floyd’s death and the urgency of tackling racism and police brutality – not only in America but here in the UK too.”