On Friday, an army veteran in Aldershot, Hampshire, England was harassed and arrested for allegedly “causing anxiety” after he posted an online meme depicting pride flags in the shape of a swastika, a symbol also widely recognized for its appropriation by the Nazi Party and by neo-Nazis.
According to various reports, 51-year-old Darren Brady reposted a meme posted by 44-year-old actor and political activist Laurence Fox.
Mr. Fox claimed the photo represented his view that LGBT Pride Month is ‘enforced with a sense of hectoring authoritarianism.’ His Twitter account was then later on locked out for posting the meme, as reported by Daily Mail.
Fox also retweeted another photo:
Lawrence Fox documented the entire incident by streaming a live video feed to his Twitter account as the arrest was taking on after Mr. Brady contacted Mr. Miller, a former police officer, and Mr. Fox during the intervening period.
“So a man is a perfectly peaceful war veteran, is being handcuffed for a Facebook post by [a] politically motivated police force. He’s being handcuffed. He’s not resisted, he’s not done anything. This is a man who served our country and you people are a disgrace.It’s great serving an ideology that you’re doing. This is an ordinary human being,” Mr. Fox said in the live video.
Mr. Brady then went on, “I think you’re tyrants. I think you should not be doing this. You’re infringing my human rights and my freedom of speech on Sections 8 and 10.
“They don’t care. They just don’t care. They don’t care. They don’t care… This is how it began. This is the Gestapo, the checker, every political ever existed. All they’re doing is proving the point. That’s all they’re doing is they’re proving the point and they’re all going to be famous as a result of it,” Mr. Fox warned.
In a now-viral video, Darren Brady was seen being handcuffed by Hampshire police because his post had ’caused anxiety.’
Mr. Brady can be heard asking the three officers in the video, “Why am I in cuffs?”
‘It didn’t have to come to this at all,’ said one of the police officers.
‘Tell us why you escalated it to this level because I don’t understand,’ Brady asked bewilderedly.
‘Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post. That is why you have been arrested,’ the police replied.
Watch the video below:
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Harry Miller, a former police officer, was also arrested after claiming he had tried to prevent the former serviceman from being detained.
He told MailOnline: ‘Hampshire Police showed a blatant disregard of the law. They approached Mr Brady and acted as summary judge, jury and executioner – but didn’t know what offence he’d actually committed. They said he was being arrested for causing anxiety, which is utterly ridiculous!
‘Mr Brady is a British Army Veteran and they were trying to extort him for money by making him pay around £80 for educational course so he could downgrade from a crime to a non-crime, which would still show up in a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
Mr Miller, who in December won a Court of Appeal challenge over police guidance on ‘hate incidents’, said police visited the man 10 days earlier and has informed him that he could take the option of attending an £80 education course to avoid being arrested and possibly charged with a criminal offence.
The veteran said he needed time to mull it over, before the officers agreed to return at a future date.
Writing on Twitter on Sunday, Mr Brady told his followers: ‘It’s nice to be able to enjoy a Sunday morning in peace without being harassed by Hampshire Police trying to extort money from me, or have me “re-educated” for sharing a meme on the Internet.’
Police returned to the Mr Brady’s property on Thursday, but he had contacted Mr Miller and Mr Fox during the intervening period. The pair run the Bad Law project together, which claims to ‘challenge and depoliticise’ policing.
They agreed to attend the man’s home and were present when officers returned.
Mr Miller claims the former serviceman refused the offer of the educational course, leading to his arrest.
A statement from Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘When officers arrived they were prevented from entering the address to discuss a potential resolution to the matter.
‘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 offence.’
But Mr Miller subsequently place himself between the officers and the veteran, telling police: ‘You arrest him, you’ve got to come through me.’
He was also arrested on suspicion of obstructing police and has been released under investigation, describing the incident as ‘one of the proudest moments of my life’.
In a separate video, Mr Miller is led to a marked police van in handcuffs and before he is taken inside, a cop asks: ‘Have you got anything on you that could harm me or you?’
Mr Miller instantly replies: ‘Just my razor sharp wit and knowledge of the law.’
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