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Protestors and councillor exchange words following campaign concerns

PUBLISHED: 16:39 19 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:39 19 June 2020

Black Lives Matter posters are outside the Shire Hall in Woodbridge Picture: Harry Raithatha

Black Lives Matter posters are outside the Shire Hall in Woodbridge Picture: Harry Raithatha

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Black Lives Matters campaigners have exchanged words with a Woodbridge town and district councillor following concerns over a Facebook post.

Woodbridge district and town councillor Chris Mapey Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNWoodbridge district and town councillor Chris Mapey Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Protestors in the town have been putting up signs on Shire Hall since last weekend, in solidarity with other protests around the world.

Now they have sent an open letter to councillor Chris Mapey following a Facebook post in which he said he fully supported “the right of peaceful protest, and am wholly supportive of the BLM movement” but raised concerns about what it could achieve.

In the post Mr Mapey questioned whether the protest could “materially influence and change a perceived lack of diversity of our town”.

He also raised concerns that protestors were “unaware” of the local effort to recognise the work of abolitionists Thomas and John Clarkson.

Naomi Keeble one of the protestors who signed the letter Picture; NAOMI KEEBLENaomi Keeble one of the protestors who signed the letter Picture; NAOMI KEEBLE

In an open letter to the East Anglian Daily Times the protestors raised a number of issues with Mr Mapey’s post, one of which was why Mr Mapey had chosen to address his concerns on social media rather than through a conversation with them.

“We are incredibly disappointed that instead of reaching out to us as individuals to have this conversation, you felt the need to provoke a conversation on Facebook, where we may have missed it,” said the campaigners.

The protestors also criticised Mr Mapey’s view that their protests would not change things and said that they hoped to work with the council to spread awareness about Thomas Clarkson’s achievements.

“What a terrible message you’re sending to young people trying to constructively use their voices for the better, to create equality and spark conversation with others on how to be actively anti-racist in their community,” said the campaigners.

“One of our agenda items for the town council is to request that the work of Thomas Clarkson is retold to the people of Woodbridge to recognise its significance locally and to the history of racism.”

In ending the letter the protestors asked Mr Mapey to pro actively engage with them and their protest.

“We hope you make your own sign councillor, and hang it with ours in support and solidarity of BLM within Woodbridge,” said the protestors.

Mr Mapey has responded to the campaigners concerns with a letter saying he wanted to work with them.

Mr Mapey said there other issues affecting the town’s diversity and called on the group to open discussions.

“It’s my belief that any such perceived lack of diversity within Woodbridge could be as easily be attributed to many other societal issues.

“I have always believed that there is always an opportunity to learn, a chance to further personal improvement, and a more effective way to open discussion and be an instrument for change.”

He also addressed comments made about Thomas Clarkson.

“I am proud of the efforts made in the past by good burghers of Woodbridge in the abolitonist movement, especially the Clarkson brothers, so I mentioned this to the people I engaged with, who were unaware of this part of local history,” said Mr Mapey.

MORE: Protestors stay out until 4am to stop signs being taken off building


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