The victimisation of London Underground driver for leading a chant of “Free, Free Palestine” has led to an outpouring of opposition. An online petition through the platform Organise has gathered almost 70,000 signatures against threatened disciplinary action and to uphold the right to free speech.
The unnamed driver used his PA system Saturday to engage with passengers onboard a Central Line train travelling to the demonstration in the capital where 300,000 turned out to oppose Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.
A short video posted on Twitter/X went viral with millions viewing the clip. The driver is heard on the PA starting his message to “all those who are facing de-humanisation and the oppression of the ongoing occupation… I feel part of it although I can’t be there.”
He then repeated, “Free, free” with passengers chanting back “Palestine” and “No justice,” eliciting the reply “No peace.” He followed this with a short message, “Hope you all have a blessed day today and look after yourselves and keep all those people in your prayers.”
For the authorities this exchange, a snapshot of genuine public opinion, rather than the pro-Israel propaganda of the media and the government, was an unpardonable offence.
Transport for London (TfL) confirmed Monday that the driver had been identified and suspended. Glynn Barton, TfL's chief operating officer, said, 'A driver has now been identified and suspended whilst we continue to fully investigate the incident in line with our policies and procedures.'
The driver could face dismissal, but the reprisals do not stop there. TfL immediately referred what it called an “incident” to the British Transport Police (BTP). Assistant Chief Constable Sean O'Callaghan confirmed, “BTP are working with Transport for London and investigating the matter,” as indicated by a X/Twitter posting at 4.29pm Saturday. The posting was viewed 1.4 million times with 1,295 replies mostly opposing police involvement. One asked, “Is saying “Free Palestine” a crime now? So much for freedom of speech.”