By Laura Kemp • 20 March 2021 • 14:02
A COURT has heard a policeman ‘Sent Grossly Offensive George Floyd Meme to Colleagues’ depicting his tragic death to fellow officers, on May 30 2020.
47-year-old Sergeant Geraint Jones sent the image on May 30 last year, five days after the world saw the footage of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he begged for air. The meme was a version of the image of a naked Wardy Joubert III superimposed in funny places, which has been widely shared. This particular meme showed Wardy Joubert III in place of Chauvin while he was arresting George Floyd.
Jones shared it to a Whatsapp group chat consisting of eight people, six of whom were fellow officers. Two of them replied with laughing emojis, but one reported it to the Devon and Cornwall police’s professional standard’s department.
On Friday, Jones, of Torquay, told Plymouth Magistrates’ Court: “I knew that the meme was going viral at the time and they had seen it in various shapes and forms. ”
“I saw the comedy of it because I found the character amusing and where he turns up. Maybe I was after a cheap laugh or trying to raise a smile. I didn’t think about it deeply and I didn’t look at the image in detail.”
“What is humorous to one can be offensive to another. I think that is part and parcel of humour, and part and parcel of WhatsApp.”
“We would end up with the law prescribing what is funny. It would be the ministry of humour. I know that there must be tens of thousands of people who have shared it thinking it’s humorous, probably hundreds of thousands. We don’t want to run the risk of criminalising all those people.”
Jones went on to say that the bar for being convicted of sending a grossly offensive image was “pretty high.” He finished by saying: “It was foolish and I regret my actions and I wouldn’t have wanted to upset anyone.”
Jones’s defence provided 54 pages of character references that said the officer is a “caring family man” who was “diligent” in his job. The prosecution argued that it would cause gross offence to people of colour and also pointed out that the meme was sent less than a week after Floyd’s tragic death.
The legislation under which Jones is being prosecuted is the Communications Act of 2003. This act makes it illegal to send images or messages that are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.” He could face up to six months in prison, fines of up to £5,000 or both if found guilty.
District Judge Joanna Matson has adjourned the case until April 21 so she has time to make her decision.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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