Homeless man arrested in southwest England over Pride flag fire

A homeless man was arrested on Friday in the England town Weston-super-Mare for burning a Pride flag.   

The flag was originally being flown outside the Weston-super-Mare Town Council’s Grove House. The flag was torn down and set on fire overnight on Wednesday. Law enforcement arrested the homeless man on Friday on suspicion of committing the crime. He is currently being held in custody.   
 

In a statement, the police explained, “Officers arrested a man in his twenties of no fixed abode at just before midday today, Friday 14 June, on suspicion of criminal damage. He currently remains in the cells.”  

The North Somerset LGBT+ Forum responded to the incident, expressing their sadness over the destruction of the flag. The group claimed that the incident "demonstrates the ongoing hostility our communities receive, and that the need for awareness, education, and acceptance has not gone away," according to the Weston Mercury.  

The statement further added, “The North Somerset LGBT+ Forum are saddened to hear that the progress rainbow flag outside Weston Town Council's Grove House, raised by the town mayor to celebrate Pride Month, was removed and burnt last night in an act of hate." 

The police are treating the incident as a hate crime for the actions. According to the United Kingdom metropolitan police, a hate crime is defined as “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”  

The metropolitan police also state that for a crime to be considered to have a hate element, evidence is “not a requirement.” If law enforcement believes that the incident was hate-related, the perpetrator can be charged with a hate crime. 


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