Police order removal of ‘white silence is violence’ banner in London

  • london
  • July 23, 2020
  • Comments Off on Police order removal of ‘white silence is violence’ banner in London

Flatmates told to replace banner hanging in Crouch End street with something less ‘offensive’

Meghann Foster, Katherine Plumb and Anna Gretton hold the banner outside their flat in Crouch End.
Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

Police have ordered the removal of a banner hanging above a high street in north London that read “white silence is violence”, allegedly claiming it was offensive to white people.

Four flatmates in Crouch End were warned about the banner on Saturday in a visit by two Metropolitan police officers. When it remained hanging from windows in the flat above a hairdressers, an officer returned on Sunday and ordered it be taken down.

The flatmates say they were told that if they did not comply they would be asked to “come down to the station”.

Alison Murphy, one of the flatmates, recalled the officer saying: “In my opinion you shouldn’t put people in boxes. It’s offensive.” He said neighbours had complained the banner was racist, she said.

Murphy, a 24-year-old website content creator, pointed out the same argument could apply to a Black Lives Matter banner. The officers suggested changing the sign to something less offensive.

A new banner has been put up which says: “Had to take first sign down cause racists complained to the police.” It remains in place.

Meghann Foster, 24 who also lives in the flat, said the police’s intervention was “ridiculous”.

Foster, who is studying for a masters in regional and global politics at Soas University, added: “The police are here to keep people safe and enforce the law, not enforce their opinions.”

Katrina Ffrench, the chief executive of StopWatch, which campaigns for fair and accountable policing, agreed. “I’m troubled that the police are curtailing people’s freedom of expression, and I can’t see how the banner was racist. Police resources should not be used to potentially criminalise law-abiding citizens,” she said.

“Demanding the banner be taken down is excessive. It doesn’t look like an appropriate use of their power and suggests over-policing and a lack of community engagement.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said: “On Saturday, 18 July, officers attended an address in Crouch End Hill, Haringey, after receiving a third-party complaint about a banner.

“Officers engaged with the resident and explained the nature of the complaint, and requested its removal.

“We would encourage the person involved to contact police via 101 or online at www.met.police.uk should they have any concerns and wish to do so.”