The excuse that “it was only a joke” will no longer fly in British courtrooms. On Tuesday, a former member of West Mercia Police was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison for sharing memes mocking the death of George Floyd.
The memes, which were shared in a private WhatsApp group with his friends, included pictures depicting George Floyd’s death, such as one featuring him as George of the Jungle, and another with a Muslim kneeling on him where a prayer mat ought to be, according to Sky News.
Former constable James Watts, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sending a grossly offensive or menacing message by public communication network, was initially ordered to pay measly compensation of £75 to the complainant, alongside a victim surcharge and a small court fee. However, the presiding judge, Tanveer Ikram, took it upon himself to make an example of Watts.
In delivering the 20-week prison sentence, Ikram declared that the former police officer “undermined confidence the public has in the police,” and that his behavior brought the organization into disrepute.