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Diane Abbott joins anti-racists to demand fall of slave trader statue

ANTI-RACISTS in east London were joined by local MP Diane Abbott to protest at the reopening of a museum that is refusing to remove the statue of a 17th-century slave trader.

The Museum of the Home in Hackney, formerly named the Geffrye Museum after Robert Geffrye, opened its doors on Saturday after a three-year renovation.

Following the Black Lives Matter protests last year, the museum agreed to change its name but decided to keep the statue when Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told institutions to “retain and explain” controversial statues.

The decision ignored a public consultation in which the majority of locals said they wanted the statue removed.

At the protest organised by Hackney Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), Ms Abbott told the crowd: “To keep the statue of Geffrye […] is an insult to Hackney’s diverse community.

“In 2021, what are we doing glorifying slave traders? Some people call this culture wars. That is almost trying to diminish and deride the fight for racial justice.

“This is not about culture wars, this is about right and wrong. This is about values, and this is about refusing to glorify the slave trade.”

The Labour MP said she will be protesting outside the museum “as long as it takes” to bring the statue down.

“Our community and the children growing up in our community deserve no less,” she added.

“At a time when racist politicians and commentators are trying to undermine progressives, trying to undermine people of colour, when racists are on the march, it could not be more important to make a stand.”

The protest also heard from Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon and local campaigners and trade unionists.

The museum said that it “fully supports the public’s right to a peaceful protest” and that the debate over the statue “raises important questions.”

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