Three British teenagers have been arrested after allegedly imitating the killing of George Floyd on social media. The trio, from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, caused outrage after an image of them recreating how the unarmed black man died at the hands of police in Minnesota was shared on social media.
In the disturbing picture, one young white man is seen kneeling on the neck of another on the ground in a park, and it’s captioned: ‘police brutality.’ The three 18 and 19-year-olds were detained on Sunday on suspicion of committing a hate crime and have since been released on bail, according to reports.
A spokesperson for Northumbria Police, which began investigations after the image was shared, said: “We can confirm we are investigating after an image was shared on social media which showed two men imitating the recent death of US citizen George Floyd.
“An investigation was launched and yesterday (Sunday) officers arrested two males aged 19 and another male aged 18 on suspicion of sending communications causing anxiety and distress.
“‘They have since been released on bail. We understand that this is social media post has caused significant upset and we want to reassure the public it is being investigated robustly and is being treated as a hate crime.”
The teens have since deleted their social media profiles, and are reportedly receiving death threats. Their re-enactment comes as people call for justice for Floyd who died at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis. Floyd died at the hospital a few days ago after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes as 46-year-old Floyd yelled: “I can’t breathe.”
Reports said the officers responded to a call from a grocery store that claimed Floyd had used a forged cheque. His death, however, is just one example of the ongoing systemic racism in America where black people find themselves being killed during encounters with white police officers.
Protests have taken place in the U.S. following his death, with at least 1,600 people arrested in 22 cities as some demonstrations turned violent. President Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the military to any state which does not take aggressive action against rioting as protests over Floyd’s death heighten.