A video purportedly showing a U.K. Army veteran being arrested for “causing anxiety” by retweeting a controversial meme of a swastika made from images of gay pride flags is shocking people globally.
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And the alleged incident is also drawing condemnation from Donna Jones, police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, U.K., who said in a statement to the Daily Mail the video left her “concerned.”
The incident in question surrounded Darren Brady, 51, an Army veteran who shared the meme on Twitter — an image reportedly originally posted by actor-turned-activist Laurence Fox.
"Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post, that’s why you’ve being arrested" -@HantsPolice
Read it & weep!
The ‘unknown’ can no longer be bullied. You now have a direct line to a group of dedicated people who will help you.@BadLawTeam | @WeAreFairCop pic.twitter.com/qbHcNNEBs8
— The Reclaim Party (@thereclaimparty) July 30, 2022
Video of the incident shows an officer telling Brady outside his Aldershot, U.K., home he was being arrested for causing “anxiety” after a complaint was made to police.
Fox was reportedly on-site at the time of the arrest as well.
“Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post,” one cop purportedly told Brady. “That is why you have been arrested.”
The Hampshire Constabulary, the office from which officers were dispatched, released a statement about the incident explaining why cops chose to arrest Brady.
“When officers arrived, they were prevented from entering the address to discuss a potential resolution to the matter,” the statement read. “As a result, officers felt it was necessary to arrest a man at the scene so they could interview him in relation to the alleged offense.”
It seems this explanation won’t suffice, though, as Jones, who oversees policing in the area, said she was aware of the Twitter video of the arrest and another related detainment and is exploring the events to learn more and to prevent future occurrences.
“I have taken this issue up with the Constabulary today and have been advised officers made the arrests following a complaint from a member of the public of an alleged hate crime. It follows a post on social media of Progress Pride flags in the shape of a Swastika,” she said. “I am concerned about both the proportionality and necessity of the police’s response to this incident.”
Jones continued, “When incidents on social media receive not one but two visits from police officers, but burglaries and non-domestic break-ins don’t always get a police response, something is wrong.”
And she wasn’t done there. The commissioner said she wanted to see the police serve the public properly, in ways the majority would expect.
“It appears on this occasion this has not happened,” Jones said, noting she hopes the example of what went wrong helps police react more appropriately in the future.
Ex police officer Harry Miller slams the police for arresting an elderly veteran for "causing anxiety" over a tweet, and compares officers to the Stasi:
"The police tried to operate outside of the law by conducting an illegal shake down."@JuliaHB1 | @HarryTheOwl101 pic.twitter.com/Ap3vOzys9X
— TalkTV (@TalkTV) August 1, 2022
Another man named Harry Miller, a former cop, was on scene with Brady and Fox and was also allegedly arrested over efforts to stop police from detaining Brady.
Miller later called cops’ anxiety claim “utterly ridiculous.”
Police had reportedly visited Brady days before the arrest to tell him he could take a class to avoid legal repercussions over the incident; Brady allegedly told them he would think it over, and they reportedly returned later to arrest him, according to Miller.
Miller and Fox run a group called The Bad Law Project, an organization based on giving a “voice to the voiceless” by challenging and calling out “bad law.”
The BBC reported that a police spokesperson said decisions would be more measured in the future.
“We are engaging further with our police and crime commissioner to make sure that we deploy our resource in a way that reflects need in our local communities,” the spokesperson said.
It should be noted that the clips showing the incident are short and do not appear to show the full scope of statements and events surrounding the arrest.
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