Two British teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of a hate crime after they posted a photo to social media in which they imitated the death of George Floyd. In the photo, one white teen is pictured kneeling on the neck of another teen (also white), with the caption “police brutality.” A spokesperson for Northumbria Police explained:
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 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.
Obviously this was an extremely stupid and offensive thing for them to do. Nevertheless, is policing the offensiveness and stupidity of teenagers really a law- enforcement priority? Aside from the general principle of freedom of speech, it is entirely possible that the boys were, albeit in a crass and ill-advised way, trying to make an anti-racist statement.