The Scottish Parliament has voted for the immediate suspension of UK rubber bullet, tear gas and riot-shield exports to the US, in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd.
The motion, which was overwhelmingly backed by Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) – 52 votes to 0, with 11 abstentions – was proposed by the Green Party’s Patrick Harvie.
Addressing fellow MSPs on Thursday, Harvie said it was “important that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement,” in light of police brutality, calling for the UK government to halt “exports of tear gas, rubber bullets, and riot 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 brutalize marginalized communities.
The hard line taken by Scottish politicians against the export of riot gear and tear gas to the US comes despite UK police forces using similar riot control equipment.
US protests sparked by the killing of 46-year-old Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis at the end of May has seen violent flare-ups between law enforcement and demonstrators. Incidents involving the security forces ramming crowds with cars, and deploying tear gas and baton rounds against peaceful protesters, as well as the arrest of and shooting at domestic and international journalists covering demonstrations, have occurred during tense confrontations between police and anti-racism campaigners over recent weeks.
The US is one of the world’s biggest buyers of British arms, with around £6 billion-worth ($8 billion-worth) of weapons and equipment licensed for export since 2010, according to UK government export-licence records.
After the Scottish Parliament vote, pressure is now on Boris Johnson’s administration to respond accordingly, with 166 cross-party Westminster MPs having signed a letter last week calling for a similar suspension.
The lawmakers argue that the government “is bound by law to freeze the export of all policing and security equipment to the US where it could be misused.”