UK Man Imprisoned Over Offensive Memes in Social Media Chats

UK Man Imprisoned Over Offensive Memes in Social Media Chats

Man Arrested Over Memes – Police Said It Was Too Offensive

( – Like the US, citizens of the United Kingdom enjoy freedom of speech. However, there are more laws in place limiting certain types across the pond — specifically hate speech, which is not legal in many of the countries.

On Tuesday, June 14, a court sentenced 31-year-old James Watts to 20 weeks in jail for posting racist memes online that mocked the death of American George Floyd. The former police constable posted 10 memes on WhatsApp in May and June 2020, right after Floyd’s murder by a now-ex-Minneapolis police officer.

Watts was an officer with the West Mercia Police in England when he shared the 10 offensive memes in a group chat with colleagues. One of the memes depicted a kneeling mat with the victim’s face on it, while another showed a white dog wearing Ku Klux Klan clothing.

The police found out about the memes after a Twitter user reportedly said a cop was posting racist messages. Eventually, law enforcement arrested Watts and co-defendant West Mercia police constable Joann Jinks, 41, and they were charged under the Communications Act 2003. The law outlaws offensive or threatening speech over public networks like the internet or apps.

Watts pleaded guilty to 10 counts of sending a grossly offensive or menacing message by a public communication network. Jinks will stand trial on August 23 for the counts of the same charge.

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