Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle, May 2020

FAQ – UK equipment use?

Following the murder of George Floyd, protests in the US against racism and police violence have been met with further state violence. The response in the UK has included anger at the potential role of the UK in supplying equipment that could be used to suppress protests. Here we try to answer some of the questions that have come up.

Last updated 28 May 2021

Is UK equipment being used against US protestors?

A recent investigation by Lighthouse Reports, the Guardian, Sky News and Bellingcat has revealed the violent use of UK-manufactured DMS Scorpion solo shields by multiple US law enforcement agencies.

We don’t know if other UK equipment has been used. It requires someone to have seen and recorded the equipment in situ, and for it then to have been identified (either at the time or once images and information have been shared).

The use of UK-manufactured anti-protest weaponry has been identified in a number of countries. However, as the US produces a lot of such equipment domestically, this has been mainly used. Even if UK equipment was deployed, it may not be observed and identified.

However, in terms of UK government licensing, evidence of specific use shouldn’t be required for the licence to be revoked or for other licences to be refused. A “clear risk that the items might be used for internal repression” should be sufficient. (Also see FAQ – rigorous export controls?)

If you want to identify equipment, RiotID is a good place to start.


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State violence is the same whether it’s carried out by the military or police. The line between the two has always been blurred and, via equipment, tactics and terminology, this is increasing.

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