Holidaymakers call police to beach over black man with water pistol

Armed police were called to a beach in Cornwall after a beachgoer told them they saw a black man with a gun which was in fact a water pistol.

The man’s partner has claimed whoever made the false accusation had been motivated by racism and described what happened as traumatising for her and her family.

Flo Finch, who is originally from Cornwall but was on holiday from Essex with her partner and child, said she does not blame the police for acting on the call.

But she did blame the beachgoer who she believes saw her partner Kieran’s skin colour and immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion.

Ms Finch told Cornwall Live the family was playing on Godrevy Beach with the water gun, but when it started to rain Kieran returned to their car with their things to stop them getting wet.

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She said: “I’m not sure when the person who made the 999 call saw it – when we were playing with it or when he was walking back.

“As a black man he’s aware of judgement, so was shooting it so people could see it was water.

“He came back from the car and 15 minutes later we turned around and saw two armed police surrounding us saying, ‘Keep your hands where they are’.

“We just looked up at them dumbfounded and thought at first they were stopping everyone on the beach or something.”

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Flo said she then started to realise what had happened and the police could judge from the family’s reaction not everything was as had been reported.

She said the officers took Kieran off to the car and her son, who has autism, was left shaking saying: “Are they going to shoot him?”.

Ms Finch said: “It was all so embarrassing and everybody on the beach was staring. God knows who saw him in the car park.”

Kieran showed the officers the “gun” was in fact a water pistol. They examined it and then they left, realising the error.

Flo said: “It caused us a lot of embarrassment and shame. The police were only doing their jobs, but Kieran was the only black person on the beach.

“It’s unacceptable and the sad reality is that racism is a dark secret in Cornwall. I don’t know the motivation of the person [who called 999]. It was probably outright racism.

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“I don’t know whether they wanted to get him arrested, embarrass him or make him feel ashamed. I don’t believe the call was made with the intention of protecting the general public. It was a blue and white water pistol.

“The police handled it in the best way. It wasn’t my partner’s first rodeo in terms of racism, but me and my son had never experienced it before. If anything it was a race hate crime against my partner.”

She added that her child suffered nightmares after what happened and believed his dad was going to get shot in front of him.

Ms Finch asked: “What can we do as a society to change the attitude of the person who made the call?”

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: “We received a call on Saturday afternoon from two holiday-makers not from the area stating they had seen a man armed with a gun on the Godrevy Beach.

“This matter was assessed and a response unit was sent to the area as high priority. The man was located and he explained to officers that it was a water pistol which was in his car. Officers verified this and the matter closed.”

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