An anonymous group pulled down a rainbow flag from outside a police station then sent hate mail boasting about what they did - sparking a police investigation.
Calling themselves 'Men Of Bridlington', they have emailed the Yorkshire Post's sister title the Bridlington Free Press stating the reasons they gave for vandalising the LGBT flag.
The group says members took offence at the appearance of the rainbow flag, which was on display at a number of police stations in the Humberside Police force area to show support for the LGBT+ community around the time of the Hull Pride event.
In response, the area's Police and Crime Commissioner dubbed the group 'morons' and that he was 'extremely disappointed' by the group's actions.
The email, which has also been sent to Bridlington's MP Sir Greg Knight, East Riding of Yorkshire Council leader Cllr Stephen Parnaby OBE, the town council, some other media outlets and leading figures at Humberside Police, vows that 'if such a flag is ever flown from a public building in Bridlington again, it WILL be removed.'
Parts of the email have been reproduced below:
"Recently a large rainbow LGBT flag has been flying at Bridlington Police Station. We cannot imagine why this decision was taken, but it is very wrong.
"The police should not be involving themselves in politics and should not be appearing to show bias towards fringe groups in society. That point in itself should be enough to condemn the police, but we especially object to the endorsement of the LGBT movement.”
The letter added more detail of the group’s objections, before adding:
"The police, of all bodies, should not be endorsing this, and it is completely unacceptable that they would.
"We vandalised the flag the other evening, and we note that as a result of our actions, it has had to be taken down. To be clear, we did not remove the flag, as we respect other people’s property and do not wish to be accused of theft.
"Instead, we vandalised it by cutting the rope above the cleat and releasing the halyard – the damage is easily remediable. However, should you re-fly the flag or anything similar, we WILL remove it and we will also take whatever other action we consider appropriate and proportionate. We trust that further action will not necessary.
"Through your newspaper, we should also like to put a question to the police and crime commissioner, Mr Hunter, the chief constable, Mr Freeman, the local MP, The Right Honourable Sir Greg Knight, and PC Danny Fleming, the so-called ‘Community and Cohesion Officer’, whom we believe is personally responsible for this:
"If you were walking past a Humberside police station with a young child, how would you explain that flag?
"The people of Bridlington may also wish to consider that question. We know what the answer from the LGBT community will be. They will say that children should be taught to be tolerant, to which our answer would be a further question: Tolerant of what?
"We do NOT support the LGBT community. More pertinently, it is not for public bodies to endorse the LGBT movement. If such a flag is ever flown from a public building in Bridlington again, it WILL be removed.
"Men of Bridlington."
'Rainbow flag vandals are morons' - What Humberside's Police & Crime Commissioner Said:
Humberside police and crime commissioner Keith Hunter has called the people who cut down Bridlington's rainbow flag 'morons'.
He was responding after a group called Men of Bridlington claimed they had vandalised the LGBT symbol over the weekend in an email sent to media outlets, police leaders and councillors.
In a statement, Mr Hunter said: “I was disturbed at the content of the email received by my office over the weekend. I’m extremely disappointed that the morons who write such rubbish would actually do something like cut down a flag which represents peace, tolerance and solidarity between all communities.
“This is something I take seriously because in 2018 we still have people who are targeted purely because of who they are, and Pride is about saying that simply isn’t acceptable, yet we get people who hold these views which are on the extreme of reality and they take it out on others.
“We have received so many positive comments from the LGBT community about how supportive Humberside Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner are, so it’s important for us to state that this kind of behaviour is completely unacceptable and I hope the persons responsible are held accountable.
“People who hold such hateful views as expressed in this email are on the extremes of society and they should be confronted and told this is unacceptable. Some people will come back and talk about freedom of speech so let me be clear on one thing, freedom of speech does not mean freedom to hate."
What the community said in response
The Bridlington community has been quick to condemn the actions of a group which cut down the rainbow flag at Bridlington Police Station.
A group calling itself Men In Bridlington has said it was responsible for damaging the flag over the weekend and has threatened to do the same if the symbol is raised again.
On Facebook, reactions included: Richard Thompson: "Wow....are there really still people around who think like that? Live and let live...."
Jamie Lord: "It’s a shame some people are stuck in the dark ages."
Sarah Denison Jacques: "Remind me to stay away from anyone that condones this behaviour. I'm appalled and sickened by the attitude shown in the email. It's a disgrace in 2018 that this small minded mentality is allowed to be heard."
Claire Strand: "Can't believe what I have just read. Disgusting behaviour should be ashamed of themselves."