London Police Apologize Twice Over 'Openly Jewish' Comment

Gideon Falter was near a pro-Palestinian march when he was threatened with arrest
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 20, 2024 3:15 PM CDT
London Police Apologize Twice Over 'Openly Jewish' Comment
Police officers stand guard after members of Youth Demand threw red paint over the exterior of the Ministry of Defence building in London on April 10.   (Lucy North/PA via AP)

London's police force has been forced to issue two apologies after officers threatened to arrest an "openly Jewish" man if he refused to leave the area around a pro-Palestinian march because his presence risked provoking the demonstrators. Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, was wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap when he was stopped by police while trying to cross a street in central London as demonstrators filed past on April 13, the AP reports.

One officer told Falter he was worried that the man's "quite openly Jewish" appearance could provoke a reaction from the protesters, according to video posted by the campaign group. A second officer then told Falter he would be arrested if he refused to be escorted out of the area because he was "causing a breach of the peace." London's Metropolitan Police Service on Friday apologized for the language the officer used in describing Falter's appearance but said counterdemonstrators had to be aware "that their presence is provocative." The Met later deleted that apology from its social media accounts and issued a second statement.

"In an effort to make a point about the policing of protest we caused further offense," the force said. "This was never our intention. We have removed that statement and we apologize." The statement added, per the AP: "Being Jewish is not a provocation. Jewish Londoners must be able to feel safe in the city." Following the confrontation, the Campaign Against Antisemitism issued a call for Londoners to exercise their right to walk wherever they choose on April 27, when another pro-Palestinian march is scheduled.

(More London stories.)

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