Somehow I bet the racist CBC would not call the gangs who did this “racist”
Last updated at 10:14 PM on 13th August 2011
A war memorial to honour civilians killed in the London Blitz has had to have protective 5ft high metal railings built around it after youths scrawled offensive slogans on it including ‘Kill the Brits’.
The elegant modern sculpture of a dove in flight, the traditional sign of peace, sits in the Hermitage Memorial Park, Wapping, overlooking the River Thames in London’s East End and has been subjected to continual graffiti attacks since its unveiling three years ago.
Behind bars: The eye-catching symbol of peace has had to be fenced off after it was vandalised
Residents of the borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the capital’s most ethnically diverse communities, have long blamed local youths for the attacks on the £80,000 memorial, which some think may be racially motivated.
One, who asked not to be named, said that some of the vandalism on the side of the monument facing the river was ‘hostile and horrible’.
‘Anyone walking along the path in front of the park would have noticed that the front of the memorial was covered in Asian names and what appeared to be the tags of Asian gangs,’ the resident said.
‘This part of London is a multi-racial area so in a way you would expect that. You would think it was just the work of local kids.
‘But what passers-by didn’t see was the vandalism and the graffiti on the side facing the river. Some people felt it was clearly racist – and it did include phrases such as “Kill the Brits”.’
‘Anyone walking along the path in front of the park would have noticed that the front of the memorial was covered in Asian names and what appeared to be the tags of Asian gangs.’
The vandalism has been particularly upsetting for those who fought a long campaign to establish the park, which is built on the site of a former Second World War bomb shelter. London’s East End was one of the areas worst affected by the Blitz. Hermitage Memorial Park is now a popular attraction and the monument, the work of acclaimed local sculptor Wendy Taylor, is a local landmark.
But the battle against the graffiti thugs has been unrelenting – with the vandals seemingly going out of their way to defile the monument.
On one occasion Ms Taylor, who lives close to the park, had to flee the site after she confronted a number of hostile youths who she felt were disrespecting the sculpture.
And even when wire fencing was erected around the monument last year so a £10,000 clean-up operation could begin, the attacks continued. On one occasion, a group of youths was spotted trying to break through the wire with bolt-cutters.
Ms Taylor, who has now managed to clean the sculpture, installed the new railings in February and so far they have kept the memorial safe.
Frank Muldoon, a member of the Hermitage Environment Group, which raised the funds to pay for the sculpture, said: ‘The railings are not something we wanted but the monument was being defaced so we had to.
Devastation: Rescuers search for survivors after a bombing raid on the East End of London in September 1940
‘I personally don’t think the graffiti was racially motivated. I remember seeing names scrawled on it and the gang tags.
‘It is true they were probably Asian in origin but people should not read too much into that. This area has a lot of Asian young people so in a sense you would expect that.’
Jim Fitzpatrick, the local Labour MP, said: ‘It is sad that we have had to protect the monument in this way but if this is the price we have to pay then so be it.’
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: ‘In 2010 we did receive reports of antisocial behaviour and criminal damage occurring in and around the memorial park in Wapping. In particular, the criminal damage appeared to centre around the war memorial within the park.
‘The fence was erected in February and there have been no further reports of criminal damage within the park or directed towards the memorial.’