Anti-Londoner graffiti and stickers have been met with mixed responses on a popular local Facebook page called, ‘Get the Easton look’. Late last night one group member posted a photo of graffiti in south Bristol with the message, ‘F*** off back to London BS3’ on the local page which is commonly used as a platform to joke about fly-tipping in the area by posting photos with amusing captions.
In the last six months stickers have been appearing in Easton and across Bristol with the message; ‘Refugees welcome, Londoners p*** off’. Several of these stickers can be found along St Marks Road among other locations in Easton. In April this year, Pedro Nash posted a photo of the “hilarious” sticker which he felt “captured the energy of Bristol as a whole” on the same local Facebook page.
The anonymous stickers which have an image of a man in a suit being hit by a rock, like the graffiti- are understood by many locals as carrying an anti-gentrification message – with Londoners who move to Bristol being blamed for the rising house prices. Before the coronavirus pandemic it was estimated as many as eighty Londoners a week were moving to Bristol.The man behind the graffiti told Bristol Live that the message he wrote next to the Bedminster Green development was his way of hitting back against the London based developers; Watkin Jones whose new flats will mostly be unaffordable to locals like himself.
The Bedminster resident who does not wish to be named said the architecture of the area is changing and locals are being priced out of properties. He said his girlfriend is from London and the message is not directed at her but just a way of expressing his frustration over locals being priced out of the area, with Londoners buying properties often taking the blame, as well as the gentrification on the high street.
The man behind the ‘F*** off back to London graffiti said: “I’ve grown up around here and nobody’s happy about it but there’s not a lot we can do other than write snarky messages. When I was growing up people would make fun of you for living in Bedminster.
“It’s always been a low income, working class area. In Bedminster as well as Easton, there’s a lot more craft beer [now].
“For me it’s all these developers, you’ve got all these houses in Brislington and Hengrove [being built] and none of it is for normal people. North Street years ago wasn’t amazing but then for whatever reason Southville became a desirable place.
“All you can do is make snarky little comments, otherwise it will get you down. I’ve got to leave Bedminster in the next two years anyway just because I don’t want to live by that.
“If you go to Victoria Park in Bedminster now, they’ve taken away the swing set, who does that benefit? It feels like they’re just taking away, instead of putting stuff back into the community.
“I’ve done silly little things here and there like, ‘tie your shoelace’ but I wouldn’t do it in a spot like that usually because I don’t think it looks particularly good. I’m not a graffiti artist or an activist.”
In Easton and Bedminster stickers telling Londoner’s to ‘p*** off’ have been popping up over the last six months. The man behind the Bedminster graffiti said he has seen one by the London Inn, a pub in Bedminster which he describes as ‘very local’ and ‘rough’.
The Facebook post of the sticker has generated mixed views online, with some seeing it as humorous and accurate and others questioning the legitimacy of the message. ‘Get the Easton Look’ group member Pamela Nova commented, “I thought it was Neoliberalism and a system gamed by oligarchs as class war. Silly me.”
Ms Nova who is originally from London told Bristol Live : “I felt like a refugee in my own country when I was living in London because I was effectively priced out of everything and moving to somewhere cheaper was my only viable option. As a working class woman I feel they are mis-targeting the main people responsible for the horrific state of the Bristol housing market.
“Money is being systematically siphoned out of the working classes and turned into assets for the wealthy. The sticker posters, people who’ve been forced to leave their homes, whether in Somalia, Turkey or London, are all on the same side of the silent and vicious class war being carried out by the oligarchs against ordinary working people.
“I have the utmost sympathy for refugees, my father was a refugee but I think they’ve got their analysis wrong to put out these stickers. Gentrification sounds really diabolical and in some senses it is.
“The answer is not to penalise Londoners but to tackle the causes which are the lack of social housing. There are obviously some Londoners that have got a bit of money but they are as much a symptom of the issue which is the diabolical housing market.
“Why aren’t the big housing developers being targeted? They are invisible whereas the odd person that might be from London is a soft target.
“I’ve tried to integrate myself into Bristol as much as possible, give as much as I can and participate in community activities. I totally understand why people might say that, but I think their analysis needs to go a little bit deeper and look at the system rather than individuals.
“In our society we’re encouraged to look at individuals and blame individuals because it’s easier. When we look at the system, it becomes a lot more challenging and can feel less empowering because then you have to get together with other people and tackle it on a systemic level.”
Pedro Nash who shared the sticker on the Facebook page said: “I think the stickers are hilarious and capture the energy of Bristol as a whole. I think they show Bristol’s fierce loyalty and community first ideals by not wanting to sell off our community to the highest bidder in some other city.
“But also shows Bristol’s rebellious streak and anti-establishment attitude by not following the anti-migrant sentiment peddled by Conservative policies and the media in general. Ultimately, I think it also shows Bristol doesn’t like to take itself too seriously and like to poke fun in a satirical art form typical to many other graffiti artists of the city [like Banksy].”
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