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Black Lives Matter: Chief Constable ‘takes a knee’ at protest in Kent

Force defends Alan Pughsley from calls for him to resign

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 10 June 2020 16:04 BST
Kent chief constable 'takes a knee' at Black Lives Matter event

A Chief Constable has been filmed “taking a knee” during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kent.

Alan Pughsley knelt during a gathering at Gravesend promenade last Friday to commemorate George Floyd and show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Floyd died after a US police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Video footage of his death was shared widely on social media and led to mass demonstrations around the world.

Kent Police defended Mr Pughsley after his actions caused controversy among Kent residents and former officers, with some calling for him to resign.

One Twitter user, Nick Scott, replied to a picture of the gesture, saying: “As a retired Kent Police officer I’m ashamed by the actions of this current chief constable.”

Another former officer said: “I’m now embarrassed that I was a police officer for 30 years. The shame that this brings upon the police service should not be under-estimated.”

A woman on social media labelled the move “disgraceful”.

However, Kent Police said they stood by those horrified by Mr Floyd’s death and defended the actions of their chief.

Deputy Chief Officer Ian Drysdale said: “We understand the depth of feeling from people around the world following the abhorrent death of George Floyd in America.

“We stand beside those who are horrified by the manner in which he died and it is important that accountability and justice follow.

“Our officers have spent years building lasting relationships with our diverse communities and it is only natural they should want to show their respects.

“We all lead by example and treat everybody with fairness, respect and dignity, irrespective of who they are.

“Taking the knee is an act of humility and officers are supported in doing this where appropriate and safe to do so, without compromising on the service we provide to the public.

“Kent Police has been making contact with various diverse communities which make up the county, to provide reassurance and listen to their concerns following the protests in the wake of this tragic death.

“It is vital we maintain the trust and confidence that we believe our communities in Kent have in us as a police force.

“As part of that reassurance and in line with duties and key responsibilities as essential workers, the chief constable and other officers have attended some events in person.

“During attendance, social distancing measures have been adhered to wherever possible, and where those measures have not been possible, health and hygiene precautions have been taken.”

The protest in Gravesend was organised by the Kent Equality Cohesion Council and North Kent Caribbean Network.

At the time Mr Pughsley said: “It was important to me for us to take part in this show of solidarity.

“We at Kent Police stand with all those who are horrified at the manner in which George Floyd lost his life. It is right there is accountability and justice should follow.

“I am fortunate to lead a force whose officers share my passion and pride in policing. I am extremely proud of this and our communities can be confident we listen, we work with them to solve problems and we are accountable for the service we provide. We are never complacent and always strive to be better.”

Additional reporting by SWNS

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