Lydney Town Council ‘backtracks’ over BLM protest ‘ban’

lydney town council backtracks over blm protest ban - Lydney Town Council 'backtracks' over BLM protest 'ban'
Image caption Khady Gueye and Eleni Eldrige-Tull are organisers of the demonstration at Bathurst Park in Lydney

A town council has overturned a decision to encourage the cancellation of a Black Lives Matter protest.

The event will now take place as originally planned on Saturday at Bathurst Park in Lydney, Gloucestershire.

Last week organisers said they felt “pressured and bullied” by Lydney Town Council to call it off, after concerns were raised over its size.

The council-run trust that manages the park voted to allow it to go ahead.

A council spokesman confirmed the meeting had voted to allow the event to go ahead “in light of the police’s view that they had an obligation to allow it”, but would not comment further.

Last week mayor Walter Leach said in an open letter that the size of the event was causing anxiety, and said organisers should respect the lives of residents.

One of the organisers, Khady Gueye, said she was “really overjoyed” the event would now happen.

‘Covert racism’

She said organisers understood there had been “genuine concerns” about holding a protest during the Covid-19 pandemic, and potential vandalism and damage to the park.

“We completely sympathise and understand, but we did feel that some of those opinions were a mask for covert racism.”

The Bathurst Park and Recreation Trust, which is run by the council, voted on Monday evening to allow the demonstration to go ahead.

The council has also apologised for “insensitivity” over using the phrase “all lives matter” when originally urging the protest to be cancelled – language that the organisers called “disrespectful”.

It said the phrase was used “unwittingly” without wider knowledge of its “associated connotations”.

The phrase “all lives matter” is seen by many as offensive and undermining of the Black Lives Matter message.

Mr Leach used the phrase three times in a letter withdrawing council support for the event last week.

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