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Woman Stopped By Police Over ‘F*ck Boris’ T-Shirt Launches Debate Over Law

by : Emily Brown on : 08 Jun 2020 11:49
Woman Stopped By Police Over 'F*ck Boris' T-Shirt Launches Debate Over LawWoman Stopped By Police Over 'F*ck Boris' T-Shirt Launches Debate Over LawLondon Light/YouTube

Footage of a Black Lives Matter protester being stopped by police because of her ‘F*ck Boris’ T-shirt has sparked a debate over the law.

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Jessie-Lu Flynn, from London, was on her way home from a protest on Wednesday, June 3, when an officer gestured for her to slow down and made his way over.

The officer is said to have asked Flynn to zip up her jacket to cover up her top – a black T-shirt with the words ‘F*ck Boris’ written in bold white print – after which she started filming the scene on her phone.

Woman stopped by police for f*ck Boris t-shirtWoman stopped by police for f*ck Boris t-shirtLondon Light/YouTube

Speaking to Dazed, Flynn recalled the officer telling her to cover up the slogan because it was ‘harassment and offensive’, and ‘violated the Section 5 Public Order Act.’

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Jessie-Lu said:

I was just like… ‘are you serious?’

I’ve worn the top a few times before and didn’t realise the word f*ck was something that could literally get you fined or arrested. We’re not in a Victorian society any more, you know?

Check out Jessie-Lu’s video here:

In the video, she argued that while the officer might have found her shirt offensive, she didn’t, and she believed ‘most people agree’ with her.

Jessie-Lu asked the officer to show her the law she was apparently breaking, after which he got out his phone and cited Section 5 of the Public Order Act of 1986, which states in part: ‘A person is guilty of an offence if he displays any writing, sign, or other visible representation which is threatening or abusive.’

Flynn argued the law was ‘quite broad’ and said the word ‘f*ck’ wasn’t causing ‘serious offence’ or ‘causing someone to cause harm’, though the officer disagreed.

Police officer speaking to woman wearing f*ck boris t-shirtPolice officer speaking to woman wearing f*ck boris t-shirtLondon Light/YouTube
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The recording stopped when her phone started to ring, but Jessie-Lu says she was told to zip up her jacket in order to ‘avoid further action’, with the officer allegedly ‘implying’ she would be arrested if she didn’t oblige.

Flynn refuted the officer’s beliefs that her T-shirt broke the law, commenting:

I’m not sure who I was meant to be offending, because there wasn’t really anyone around.

We live in a democratic society where we should be allowed to wear whatever we want. At the end of the day, Boris Johnson is f*cking the country and until he stops f*cking the country, I’m not going to stop telling him to go f*ck himself.

Woman stopped by police for f*ck Boris t-shirtWoman stopped by police for f*ck Boris t-shirtLondon Light/YouTube

The protester’s video was shared online, where it has since sparked debate among social media users as to whether Flynn was right to argue back.

One person responded to say that while they personally enjoyed the T-shirt, ‘technically the officer was right’, though another Twitter user argued the police don’t appear to be consistent with their enforcement of this particular law.

They wrote:

You’re forgetting the part that says it had to cause harassment or alarm. Do the police stop everyone who had a swear word somewhere on the person? No. This is clear political censorship. No one likes a bootlicker.

Another viewer supported Flynn, writing:

Ridiculous of the police. I see a lot more offensive T-shirts on a daily basis, and most things Boris says are more offensive!

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One social media user said they agreed with the law, though didn’t feel it applied to Flynn, writing:

Interesting. I don’t take any offence at that T-shirt and think it was a complete waste of the police time and resource. However I agree with that law in principle – wearing something that is actually offensive and could incite crime should be stopped. This wasn’t such a case!

Following her encounter with the police, Flynn looked up the law for herself and argued it’s ‘actually very broad and quite dated.’

She said:

I think it could very easily be manipulated by a bored or angry cop in the same way that he did, because it’s so subjective – what offends one person isn’t going to offend the next. Even then, if someone wore one saying ‘F*ck Jeremy’ (Corbyn) I might be offended, but that doesn’t mean I can stop them doing it.

Illegal or not, Flynn’s encounter with the police left many people wanting to buy ‘F*ck Boris’ tops of their own, meaning law enforcement might have to prepare their arguments for more upcoming T-shirt debates.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Black Lives Matter, Boris Johnson, London, Now, Politics, Protest

Credits

London Light/YouTube and 2 others
  1. London Light/YouTube

    Stopped By Police Because of My T-Shirt, London 2020

  2. Dazed

    A BLM protester faced arrest for wearing a ‘Fuck Boris’ t-shirt

  3. legislation.gov.uk

    Public Order Act 1986