Slavery

Protest held outside museum over Geffrye statue

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Statue of Sir Robert Geffrye
MUSEUM OF THE HOME

Chants of "take it down" and "Geffrye must fall" rang out at the gates of the Museum of the Home (MotH) over the weekend, as the backlash continued over its board’s decision to keep the statue of Sir Robert Geffrye on the buildings of the east London institution.

Several Hackney councillors made their own anger felt at the protest which was organised by Hackney Stand Up To Racism & Fascism, and saw a banner with the phrase ‘We Are All Migrants’ draped across the museum’s gates.

Dean Ryan of Hackney Stand Up To Racism said: “The old symbols of the past and oppression must fall. We saw that for years in Bristol protesters had petitioned, written letters to their MPs, and had said for year after year that the symbol of Edward Colston was a travesty, something that reminded Black people of racism and oppression.

“Robert Geffrye made his money from slave-trading... People overwhelmingly voted to take [the statue] down, but the museum’s board has said that that they are going to keep it up, because things are complex.

Mr Ryan added that "Hackney is a multicultural borough where Black and white people live together, and our unity is our strength. We do not want reminders of oppression".

Whilst accepting its responsibility to “acknowledge the legacy of colonialism and slavery within our history”, MotH explained in a statement that it would be “reinterpreting and contextualising the statue where it is, to create a powerful platform for debate about the connection between the buildings and transatlantic slavery”.

Carole Williams, who leads on equalities for the council, held up a sign reading Black And Tired as she spoke at the protest: “This year, more than any year, I’m Black, I’m sick, and I’m tired. I’m tired of the same fight. I’m tired of the same lazy excuses. I’m tired that we’re told we cannot when we can".

Also in attendance was Dalston councillor Soraya Adejare, who accused the museum of “disrespect” for deciding to keep the image of Geffrye having heard the majority views of the public in its consultation.

The Museum of the Home was approached for comment, but has not yet responded.