British police sent visibly armed officers to guard a Christmas market but anti-gun activists didn’t like it one bit and generated a social media reaction of more than 2,500 critical comments. This action was taken just days before the Berlin truck attack and just a week prior to the U.S. government warning its citizens in Europe that it had “credible information” that the Islamic State and al-Qaeda were planning to attack Christmas celebrations in Europe this year.
British police, forced to defend themselves, insisted they were following orders from the Home Office, telling the public: “Don’t be alarmed if you do see our armed officers, they are there purely for reassurance and to make people feel safe.” Those opposing the action say “militarized” police made the situation “worse” and were an “over-reaction”.
Facebook user Livia Augusta wrote: “I think a militarized police is the last thing I would want my children pictured with. This kind of visibility of armed police contributes to a climate of fear. Safety is the last message this presence is sending out. It’s sad, and an extreme over reaction to a very slim chance of a terrorist attack. More likely to be hit by a drunk driver.”
Some called it very wrong and said they were “normalizing the abnormal.”
A British newspaper read headlines, “Outrage as police officers armed with huge guns pose with children at Christmas market.”
The force responded in a statement, writing: “Being an AFO requires a huge amount of training and we are very proud of the officers who have taken up this role in Northumbria.” Other Christmas markets in the UK also took precautionary measures. Concrete barriers were erected around the market in Birmingham to stop a truck or car attack.
Additional UK forces are deploying armed officers, and responding to Monday’s deadly attacks in Berlin and Turkey, more will follow Northumbria. London police told Reuters in a statement Tuesday morning, “The Metropolitan Police has detailed plans for protecting public events over the Christmas and New Year period. As a matter of routine, as a precaution, we review our plans after attacks overseas, and we are doing so at present following the awful incidents in Berlin and Ankara last night.”