The police have been watching Youtube, and spotted a video of a young man being homophobically abused by a self-styled “Muslim patrol”. In their keenness to prosecute, they have done something unforgivably awful. The man who received the abuse has not come forward, so the police have released his picture in an attempt to get him to do so.
This is vile behaviour on a number of levels. There is absolutely no respect for the man’s decision not to come forward, a decision which many survivors of many crimes of structural violence make. These decisions are often made for good reasons: the police are pretty fucking awful on taking such crimes seriously for the most part, and as a result, many people who experience oppression mistrust the police. Maybe the man who has had his picture out there did not trust the police to treat what happened to him sensitively or effectively, and the benefits of engaging with the police vastly outweighed the costs.
This is further exacerbated by the fact that the police actively harm and harass people who are already on the receiving end of a whole heap of structural violence. The police are just another gang of oppressors, albeit worse-dressed. I doubt putting this man’s pictures everywhere is going to endear the police to him, when it strikes me that this is nothing more than another form of using their power to harass.
And what if the man was not out? What if he wanted to remain anonymous for the simple fact that nobody knew of his sexual orientation and he preferred it that way? What if he has good reasons for not being out–such as not wanting to be on the receiving end of further violence? What if the police just outed someone because they felt that whatever they’re trying to do is more important than respecting this person’s privacy?
What the police have done here is betray a staggering lack of respect for the private life of an individual they are disingenuously pretending to be helping. A part of me hopes that this was simply that they didn’t think things through, because the alternative is too grim to consider. Did they do this, knowing how dangerous it would be for the man in the picture, in the hope of ratcheting up the abuse and forcing him to come forward?
What they have done here is demonstrate, once again, whose side they are on. It is not the side of survivors, but their own side, and they’ll shit all over survivors to get what they want.