Over in the UK, the scenic location of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire became the unexpected stage for controversy when a 73-year-old retired social worker was set upon by police in her own home for taking a photograph of a sticker bearing the words “Keep males out of women-only spaces.” Here’s the full story.
Police Question Senior Citizen Over Sticker Photo
A 73-year-old retired social worker in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, was questioned by police after photographing a sticker that read ”Keep males out of women-only spaces.”
“Stand by Your Trans”
Somebody had placed the sticker on an LGBT+ pride poster with the slogan ‘Stand By Your Trans.’
Misuse of Police Powers
In what critics are calling a misuse of police powers, officers used CCTV footage to identify and approach the woman.
She Relayed Her Profound Shock
The senior citizen, wishing to remain anonymous due to fears of online backlash, relayed her profound shock to The Daily Mail.
Police Priorities Under Scrutiny
This incident in Hebden Bridge has reignited discussions on police priorities, particularly in light of last month’s report highlighting the UK police’s neglect to investigate the majority of significant “lesser” crimes, such as burglaries.
Citizen’s Shocking Encounter
Speaking about the encounter, the woman said she had merely photographed the sticker as she agreed with its stance on restricting transgender women from women-exclusive spaces.
She Intended to Share It Privately With Her Partner
She did not post this photograph online but intended to share it privately with her partner.
Just days later, two West Yorkshire Police officers visited her home.
It Could Cause Harassment and Alarm to the Community
As she cared for her seriously ill partner, “They gave me a long lecture about the sensitivity of the issue and how something like this could cause harassment and alarm to the community,” she explained.
Police Accused of Arbitrating Heated Debates
“I think they wanted to correct my thinking,” she recounted. “They are getting involved in a very divided and toxic debate, but it’s not their role to arbitrate political disagreements. I felt as if they were trying to gag a dissenting voice by harassing me in my own home.”
A Possible Link
The older woman suspected that her identification was a result of previous correspondence with the LGBT+ community group Happy Valley Pride. The group had placed the ‘Stand By Your Trans’ poster outside the town hall.
The retrieved police log, accessed via a data request, stated that the officers had advised her regarding the potential “harassment and alarm” such a sticker might cause.
West Yorkshire’s High Crime Rate
West Yorkshire stands out as a region with one of the UK’s highest crime rates. According to official data, over 90% of the criminal cases in the area remain unresolved.
A Series of Police Controversies
The same police force was severely criticized just last month for another incident. An autistic 16-year-old girl in Leeds was apprehended for remarking that a short-haired officer looked like her “lesbian nana.”
“Homophobic Public-Order Offense”
A video clip displaying seven officers overpowering the girl spread like wildfire online, bringing a lot of attention to the department. The accusation of a “homophobic public-order offense” against the girl was later dismissed.
Thought Policing and Free Speech
Harry Miller, a retired police officer, denounced this recent police intervention as “thought policing.”
Fair Cop Founder Criticizes West Yorkshire Policing
Establishing the free-speech advocacy group Fair Cop after a personal brush with law enforcement over a limerick about transgender women, Miller stated, “How can a woman photographing a sticker cause alarm and distress to the Happy Valley Pride community? There is politically correct rot at the heart of West Yorkshire policing.”
Challenging Policing Role
Stella O’Malley, the founder of Genspect and a renowned psychotherapist, echoed similar sentiments. She stated, “It’s not the job of the police to decide that taking a photo is a hate crime.”
West Yorkshire Police Respond to Backlash
In response to the whirlwind of criticism, West Yorkshire Police clarified that the episode had been recorded as a ‘non-crime hate incident.’ They added, “Words of advice were given regarding placing the sticker, as it was reported to have caused offense.”
A Gray Area in Modern Policing
It remains to be seen how much further the lines between safeguarding citizens and intruding upon their personal freedoms will continue to blur.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dragana Gordic. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.
Source: Daily Mail