Conservative Councillor Arrested for Sharing ‘Hate Crime’ Video of Christian Street Preacher Being Detained

CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 02: A police officer looks over the city from Cardiff Castle as
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A Conservative politician was arrested in England for allegedly engaging in a hate crime by sharing a video showing police detaining a Christian street preacher and for defending the free speech of a fellow councillor who criticised the LGBT Pride movement.

In yet another blow to the state of freedom of expression in Britain, Conservative Councillor Anthony Stevens has revealed that he was arrested at his home earlier this month by Northamptonshire Police for posts he made on social media, for which they dragged him into a police station for questioning.

The Wellingborough representative is facing a public order offence under section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986, with police saying that he is suspected of spreading material that could “stir up racial hatred”.

Stevens told The Telegraph that officers questioned him over a video a post on X, formerly Twitter, which showed Christian preacher Oluwole Ilisanmi being arrested in 2019 for supposedly being Islamophobic. Christian preachers have come under increasing pressure from law enforcement in the UK for merely espousing beliefs laid out in the Bible. Ilisanmi was ultimately cleared and was awarded £2,500 for being wrongfully arrested.

The police informed him that the video was first posted by a member of the nationalist Britain First party, however, Stevens maintained that he was unaware of the party and that he had only shared the video to demonstrate the “disturbing evidence of religious discrimination in law enforcement”.

Councillor Stevens said that he was also questioned by officers over his support for his fellow Northamptonshire councillor, King Lawal, who was suspended from his post for expressing the Christian view that pride is a sin and that those who celebrate pride, such as the LGBT movement, should repent and return to the Lord. Police questioned Stevens as to why he shared a petition supporting Lawal’s reinstatement, to which he replied that he is a “free speech absolutist”.

The police went on to question whether he endorsed Lawal’s position that pride is a sin. Stevens stated that “it did not matter whether he agreed with what he said or not, he believed he had the right to say it without having his life torn apart”.

Finally, the police also questioned the Conservative politician for a post that included a man burning a copy of the Qur’an, which Stevens once again said was intended to demonstrate his support for the “right to free speech in a free society”.

Commenting on his arrest, he said: “It is appalling and bizarre to be brutally arrested for sharing a petition in defending the right to free speech of a fellow councillor. The accusation of racial hatred is ridiculous and insulting. My only crime has been supporting the only black local councillor in Northamptonshire.”

“In a true democratic society, you cannot have people being arrested for a few tweets. We must have debate, we must have the freedom to criticise and offend each other, otherwise this country is going to swiftly go to pot.

The councillor said that the arrest was “frightening” and he felt that it was intended to be so, as well as to “humiliate” him in front of his wife and children. Stevens said that there was “no need to ambush me in my own house, arrest me, search me, keep me in the cell for the whole day, interrogate me or confiscate my phone.”

“If elected members cannot share their beliefs or support each other in their right to share their beliefs without losing our jobs and being arrested, then we are in a very dark place,” he concluded.

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: “On Aug 2, Northamptonshire Police received a report of a hate crime regarding posts made on social media. In response, a 50-year-old man was arrested on the morning of Aug 7 on suspicion of distributing written material to stir up racial hatred. He has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

“As this is a live investigation, the force is unable to comment further.”

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