Amid violent protesting and increased police brutality taking place at Black Lives Matter protests, the Scottish Parliament has called for the immediate suspension of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullet exports to the United States.
The motion was backed by 52 votes to 0 with 11 abstentions. Following the vote, statement was released saying that the Parliament
“stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and considers that the UK government must immediately suspend all export licences for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US”.
Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP who proposed the amendment, said the
“weapons of oppression”, which the UK government has granted active export licenses for, were being used by a “racist state” to “brutalize marginalize communities”.
Scotland took it one step further and added to the motion for the establishment of a slavery museum “to address our historic links with the slave trade”.
The police response to the US protests has seen security forces ramming crowds with cars, deploying teargas and baton rounds against peaceful demonstrators, and arresting and shooting at domestic and international journalists covering events.
MSP Mr Harvie said following the vote:
“In the weeks since George Floyd’s brutal murder the world has been watching the appalling systematically racist police brutality and the systematically racist political establishment in the US that underpins that inequality.
“The Black Lives Matter movement has been inspiring and it needs to be heard right around the world: that racism exists in this country as well.
“I’m delighted that today the Scottish Parliament agreed a Green amendment in an anti-racism debate calling for an establishment of a Museum of Slavery to really shine a light on this country’s grim past connections with slavery and how the inequality of that history perpetuates even now.
“But our amendment also called for an immediate halt of UK exports of tear gas, rubber bullets, and riots gear to the US. Those weapons of oppression are being used by a racist state and it is unacceptable for us to be exporting them, putting those weapons into the hands of people who will brutalise marginalised communities. It’s important that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.”
UK’s government export license records show that the US is one of the world’s largest buyers of UK arms, with almost $6 billion worth of licensed riot gear exports since 2010.
Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade stated,
“This is a welcome and important statement of leadership from the Scottish Parliament. It sends a very clear message and sets an important precedent. Now it is time for Westminster to act.
“The violence we have seen from police forces across the US has been appalling and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. There must be an urgent investigation into what UK weapons have gone over, and if any of them have been used against protesters. There must also be a guarantee that these types of weapons will not be sold again.
“Police violence and racism are global issues. One reason why we have seen such a strong response to the brutal killing of George Floyd is because these issues are familiar to people around the world. While we stand in solidarity with campaigners in the US, it is also vitally important that we challenge the hypocrisy and complicity of governments like the one here in the UK.”