British Police Appropriate Pride Iconography
by Collin Wynter
On Sunday August 21, 2021, the Daily Mail reported that police cars have been painted with the ubiquitous “Pride” label and rainbow colours. Although it is unknown how many of these cars will be paraded around in this manner, the intent is to provide the LGBT+ community with a sense of safety if they encounter any hate crimes.
As quoted in the Daily Mail, Deputy Chief Constable, Julie Cooke, LGBT+ liaison for the National Police Chiefs Council, who is herself not gay, says the reasoning behind the move is:
“… to try and give confidence to our LGBT+ community, but also to other under-represented groups.”
“We don’t see the Met with special cars for knife crime, even though the number of stabbings in London is appalling.”
Miller’s own experience with hate crime legislation involved tweets that were considered transphobic. Even though no actual crime had been committed, police were sent to his home to “check his thinking”. This is what has come to be known as a “non-crime hate incident”.
The ominous parallels to 1984 are striking.
Luckily, Miller not only won his case, but also set a precedent for all those who value the right to freedom of speech. As he rightly claimed “[t]his is a watershed moment for liberty…”. His larger suit against the College of Policing in regards to the lawfulness of hate crimes was rejected, though. He is appealing the matter to a higher court.
While police seem to be focused on “non-crime hate incidents” that occur online, there are actual hate crimes occurring on the streets.
Take for instance two homophobic incidents in the UK in the past week.
One was an attack in Birmingham’s gay village. Four men of middle eastern or asian decent, knocked a man unconscious and injured two others.
While the other, a murder with alleged homophobia as being a driving factor, occurred in Tower Hamlets.
How colourfully painted cars provided substance to these investigations is a non-sequitur. Instead, good old fashioned detective work is what was necessary.
Another point of dispute is that “hate crime cars” may be providing “confidence” to LGBT+ activists, while at the same time intimidating those with a difference of opinion. As Miller points out:
‘The problem is that the second that you see a rainbow car, you know that it is a police force that has made its mind up about some very contentious issues.”
He argues the Pride movement is a political one. But the police are required to be neutral. So, they should not have any inclinations towards one group over another.
Considering Cooke is the LGBT+ liaison, it may benefit her to know that there are those from the LGB community who also hold some very contentious ideas. Not all LGBT+ people agree with each other’s positions.
Is it too far fetched, then, to believe that there may come a time when a police car, emblazoned in drag, is sent to arrest a LGB person for not having the correct political views?
It is deeply offensive for the police to appropriate the idea of pride.
Gay pride was founded for liberation, not intimidation.