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SJB says police officer in ‘All Lives Splatter’ meme row should be fired

Activists yesterday demanded the sacking of a police officer after the Chief Justice dismissed a criminal case against her for controversial social media posts in the run-up to last year’s Black Lives Matter demonstration.

But Social Justice Bermuda said Pc Barbi Bishop should still be fired over an “All Lives Splatter” meme posted on Facebook and Instagram.

The group said: “The Bermuda Police Service should have taken immediate action to remove this officer from their ranks.

“This has little to do with this court case and everything to do with the employment of officers who can carry out the important duty of keeping our island and her inhabitants safe from harm.”

The group spoke out after Chief Justice Narinder Hargun said last Friday that the meme could be considered “grossly offensive”.

But Mr Justice Hargun’s ruling upheld the suspended officer’s case against the Crown, where Victoria Greening, for Ms Bishop, argued the charge under the Electronic Communications Act had violated her client’s constitutional rights to freedom of conscience and expression.

Ms Bishop denied the charge of posting a “grossly offensive message”, which would have gone to trial in front of a jury in the Supreme Court.

Police said after Friday’s ruling that Ms Bishop was not at work and that “the conduct process can now progress”.

A Bermuda Police Service spokeswoman declined to comment further yesterday.

The meme was posted by Ms Bishop on June 3, 2020, was four days before a protest organised by Black Lives Matter Bermuda that brought an estimated 7,000 people on to the streets of Hamilton.

It was said to be Bermuda’s biggest demonstration in recent times.

The march was organised after the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The march was one of many around the world held in support of racial justice after Mr Floyd’s death.

The post by Ms Bishop’s featured stick figures hit by a car, with the words “All Lives Splatter. Nobody cares about your protest. Keep your a** out of the road”.

The meme and similar posts had been shared on social media since 2017 and sparked action against police officers in previous cases in the United States.

Ms Greening told the court in July that her client had moved fast to pull the cartoon from her social media account once she realised it was seen “unfavourably”.

She also pointed out that Social Justice Bermuda had posted the same cartoon on its Facebook page.

The activists said they had maintained from the start that “the priority course of action was for Pc Barbi Bishop to be fired”.

“We were told that the Bermuda Police Service was awaiting the result of this trial to determine if Pc Bishop was no longer fit to serve as an officer, and in the meantime, she would be ‘suspended with pay’.”

The group branded the cartoon “a far-right meme” that showed violence against protesters “inspired by the murder of Heather Heyer – as well as the wounding of 19 others“ by a White supremacist who used his car to ram a march on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, North Carolina.

Social Justice Bermuda added the group had posted the meme to its account to highlight the incident.

Mr Justice Hargun’s judgment said there had “clearly” been potential for offence as well as “public disorder”, which was underlined by the public reaction to Ms Bishop’s posts.

But the Chief Justice agreed with the defence that Ms Bishop already faced police disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct.

Mr Justice Hargun ruled that the Crown’s case against her breached her rights under the Bermuda Constitution.

Ms Greening and Ms Bishop declined to comment yesterday.

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