A 51-year-old veteran was taken into custody Friday over a meme that showed four LGBT flags arranged in one image that formed a swastika.
As chronicled by the Daily Mail, Darren Brady was arrested by Hampshire Police and taken from his home in handcuffs.
Video of the incident on Twitter showed the Englishman asking police, “Why am I in cuffs?”
“It didn’t have to come to this at all,” one of the four officers there to arrest Brady said.
“Tell us why you escalated it to this level because I don’t understand,” Brady said, noting that the meme he shared was not one he created and that it made no sense to arrest him.
“Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post. That is why you have been arrested,” the police officer replied.
Harry Miller, a former police officer, said he tried to intervene and was arrested for obstructing the actions of the police.
“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 offense he’d actually committed. They said he was being arrested for causing anxiety, which is utterly ridiculous,” he said.
“Mr. Brady is a British Army Veteran and they were trying to extort him for money by making him pay around [$97] 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. They thought they could get away with it. It was the world’s worst shakedown,” he said, adding that the arrest followed an ultimatum 10 days earlier to either sign up for the course or face arrest.
Brady said the meme was first posted by Laurence Fox, who said he made it because the month observed by LGBT advocates as “Pride Month” is “enforced with a sense of hectoring authoritarianism.”
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 offense.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones responded to the arrest.
“I am concerned about both the proportionality and necessity of the police’s response to this incident. 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,” she said.
“As Police Commissioner, I am committed to ensuring Hampshire Constabulary serves the public as the majority of people would expect. It appears on this occasion this has not happened,” she said.