A British veteran was arrested by Hampshire police after the man reposted a meme depicting the LGBT pride flag in the shape of a swastika onto his Facebook page.
In a viral video taken of the arrest, the man, 51-year-old Darren Brady, is told by police officers that the reason he’s being arrested is because the meme he posted to Facebook had been too upsetting to someone in the community.
“Because someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post,” one of the officers said to Brady. “That is why you have been arrested.”
"Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post, that’s why you’ve being arrested" –@HantsPolice
Read it & weep!😭
— The Reclaim Party (@thereclaimparty) July 30, 2022
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Hampshire Constabulary said officers had received a report “that an offensive image had been shared online,” which had prompted them to visit the British veteran’s residence to “establish the exact circumstances around the social media post.”
According to Harry Miller, who was arrested alongside Brady, the officers then tried to “extort” Brady by telling him he had to “pay around £80 for [an] 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.”
When the police returned to Brady’s home later to hear his decision about the educational course, “they were prevented from entering the address to discuss a potential resolution to the matter,” according to the police spokeswoman.
This prompted the officers to escalate the situation and arrest Brady at his home. According to police, Brady has since been released while law enforcement continues their “investigation” into the matter.
The police officers who made the arrest claimed they were investigating a violation of Section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act, a UK law that gives the government the authority to arrest and imprison people for “grossly offensive” social media posts.
In a statement, Donna Jones, the Hampshire police and crime commissioner, criticized the actions of her officers, saying “something is wrong” with law enforcement’s priorities.
“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,” Jones said.