Lydney councillor quits after abuse for BLM support

Di Martin, cabinet member Forest of Dean District Council
Image caption Di Martin said she was “shocked” by the abuse she received after speaking at the rally in Lydney

A district councillor has resigned from her cabinet role citing public “hatred” following her attendance at a Black Lives Matter rally.

Di Martin said she had left Forest of Dean District Council after receiving abuse since speaking at the protest.

She said: “It was like I dropped a bomb. The hatred and the messages I was getting; that I’d broken the law and should be investigated.”

The event, held in Lydney on 20 June, was attended by about 250 people.

‘Innate racism’

Ms Martin, who is in her 60s and has described herself as deaf, said she had attended the rally in a personal capacity but afterwards people had attacked her on the basis of her disability, age and gender, and had made insulting remarks about her family.

“I’ve been shocked. It’s brought out some innate racism. There is an issue in the Forest of Dean.

“People always say, ‘we don’t have those types of people here’. What a thing to say.

“There is an innate racism in some sections of the community, not all, but if it brings it to the fore you can find ways to address it.

“We have to embrace all cultures, all people,” the former cabinet member for housing said.

Image caption Khady Gueye and Eleni Eldridge-Tull organised the event on 20 June

The rally was organised by Khady Gueye and Eleni Eldridge-Tull.

Ms Eldridge-Tull said it was “appalling” that Ms Martin felt she had to resign.

‘Sanction councillors’ call

Ms Gueye added: “I think it’s disappointing that people are feeling pressured to resign from their role and that there’s still a huge controversy around the event.”

There was some opposition to the protest being held, and the mayor of Lydney wrote an open letter expressing his concern about the size of the planned gathering during the pandemic.

However the council’s opposition was withdrawn “in light of the police’s view that they had an obligation to allow it,” and after the organisers complained of feeling bullied by the town council.

Leader of Forest of Dean District Council, Tim Gwilliam said some councillors had asked him to “sanction” members who attended the event, but said there was no reason to do so.

“I’m being asked by opposition members at meetings, what am I going to do with the three members who attended.

“It was at that point where Di felt, when is it going to end, and felt the need to offer her resignation.”

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