Flying Confederate Flag Deemed a ‘Hate-Related’ Offence by British Police

COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 23: The Confederate flag is seen flying on the Capitol grounds a day after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced that she will call for the Confederate flag to be removed on June 23, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Debate over the flag flying on the …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Police officers in Norwich, England have recorded a “hate-related public order offence” against a local resident who flew the Confederate flag to mark the anniversary of the death of Civil War General Stonewall Jackson.

Last week, Emily Robinson, a 34-year-old teacher — who recently moved back to the small English city from the left-progressive enclave of Brighton — made a complaint to the police about the house flying the Confederate flag.

The house reportedly has a longstanding tradition of flying different world flags on days associated with them, with a note posted explaining the history of the flag for the public to read.

Yet the teacher apparently took offence at the house flying the rebel flag after spotting it on a walk with her artist partner.

She told the Eastern Daily Press: “The Confederate flag is the flag used by southern states in the American Civil War who were fighting for the right to keep black slaves. It directly represents support for slavery.”

“To me, this is a great opportunity to educate people on how damaging this is to many people who are a minority in our lovely city — as I know many people may not have any reason to know why it is such a big deal,” she pronounced.

“I believe it is our responsibility, as white people in this country, to stand up to racism.”

In response to Ms Robinson’s complaint, police issued “words of advice” to the owner of the house and recorded the flag flying as a “hate-related public order offence”.

A Norfolk Constabulary spokeswoman said that officers “have since spoken to the flag owner who has expressed his intention was not to cause offence and words of advice have been given.”

Amid backlash from their conservative-leaning readership, the Eastern Daily Press published an opinion article by one of their reporters, Sarah Burgess, who defended the teacher’s “woke” attack on the Confederate flag.

“The legacy of slavery and its dehumanisation of black people persists in the racism and discrimination that we see today. The Confederate Flag is a common sight in America’s more conservative states, whether flown in support of President Donald Trump, or as a statement of opposition to Black Lives Matter,” Burgess wrote — although Norwich, England, is of course some distance from North America.

She went on to claim that while being “woke” has become an insult, the “word in fact describes is those who are alert to injustice in society, and who appreciate the complex history behind our modern symbols.”

“It is only through the rejection of offensive language and symbols in the past – be it the swastika, the n-word, or catcalls towards women – that such things are no longer socially acceptable today,” Burgess lectured.

The incident is just the latest in a long line of police forces being used to enforce speech codes and other limits on freedom of expression in Britain, which, unlike the United States, does not have a First Amendment-style protections for speech.

Over the past six years, for example, police across the country have recorded some 120,000 allegations of so-called “non-crime hate incidents” in their databases, meaning that the supposed offence is visible on background checks.

The Conservative Party government rejected an official petition for a Free Speech Act in 2018.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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