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Black Lives Matter protest London t-shirt Fuck Boris
Jessie Flynn wearing the t-shirt at a 2019 protest

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

Jessie-Lu Flynn was stopped by the police in London and told to cover up the slogan under the Section 5 Public Order Act

Bad news for everyone who’s got one of Sports Banger’s ‘Fuck Boris’ t-shirts hanging in their wardrobe – seems like if you’re caught out and about wearing the style you could face arrest, as Londoner Jessie-Lu Flynn found out earlier this week.  

In a video that’s been shared widely across social media, Flynn is stopped by a police officer on her way home from Wednesday’s Black Lives Matter protest after he takes offence to her top. According to Flynn, after spotting the slogan he gestured to her to slow down, made his way over, and asked her to cover the slogan by zipping up her jacket – at which point she started filming. 

“He told me that I needed to cover it up as it was harassment and offensive, and I was just like… are you serious?” she explains. “When I asked how it was offensive, he said it violated the Section 5 Public Order Act. I’ve worn the top a few times before and didn’t realise the word fuck was something that could literally get you fined or arrested. We’re not in a Victorian society any more, you know?” 

As the video continues, Flynn questions the police officer on the grounds of his request, before he gets his iPhone out and looks up the law.

“He didn’t really seem 100 per cent sure about it, so I checked it out afterwards and it’s actually very broad and quite dated I think,” she says. “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 ‘Fuck Jeremy’ (Corbyn) I might be offended, but that doesn’t mean I can stop them doing it.” 

So what exactly are the specifics when it comes to the Section 5 Public Order Act, and was the officer within his rights to demand Flynn do up her jacket? Though you might initially think being able to tell Boris to go fuck himself would fall under the Freedom of Expression Human Rights Act, unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

Section 5 states that “A person is guilty of an offence if he displays any writing, sign, or other visible representation which is threatening or abusive”, which basically constitutes anything that could be considered distressing by an onlooker. However, it is usually cited on a case by case basis and not strictly enforced, so it would seem, in this instance, the police officer may have been feeling more than a little petty. “I’m not sure who I was meant to be offending, because there wasn’t really anyone around,” laughs Flynn. 

Despite her encounter with the police, Flynn explains she hasn’t been put off wearing the t-shirt in future, and won’t be relegating it to the back of the wardrobe any time soon. “We live in a democratic society where we should be allowed to wear whatever we want,” she says. “At the end of the day, Boris Johnson is fucking the country and until he stops fucking the country, I’m not going to stop telling him to go fuck himself.” 

Take a look at images from the Black Lives Matter march in London above and check out our guide on how to protest safely here