Protesters demanding the removal of a slaver statue at the Museum of the Home are now calling on people to boycott the venue.
A protest earlier this month was the latest in a series of demonstrations outside the Kingsland Road museum since trustees decided to retain the monument of slave trader Robert Geffrye.
It was again organised by Hackney Stand Up To Racism and affiliated groups, but it marked a change in tactics, with protesters now urging people to stay away from the museum until it removes the statue.
Speaking at the event, Hackney North MP Diane Abbott said: “For people to say that we want to [remove the statue] because we want to cancel history – that is absurd. They are the people that have sought to cancel history.
“For too long there has been silence in official institutions about important aspects of British history: the role of the slave trade; the role of colonialism; the role of the Windrush generation; and how people of colour helped to enrich and build this country.”
Other speakers at the protest included Dessie Barrow of Hackney National Education Union and local councillor Susan Jumoke Fajana-Thomas.
Subira Cameron-Goppy, Windrush coordinator at Stoke Newington charity the Claudia Jones Organisation, said: “As a charity that has served the Black community in Hackney and across London for more than 35 years, we are calling on the board of trustees of the Museum of the Home to remove the statue of Robert Geffrye from its prominent display.
“Geffrye became wealthy from one of the most cruel, abhorrent, and inhumane atrocities in history and by honouring his life in this way the museum is condoning the suffering of our ancestors and causing great offence and harm to its diverse local community, many of whom are descendants of Geffrye’s victims.”
The Museum of the Home, formerly the Geffrye Museum, held a public consultation last year which showed 71 per cent were in favour of the statue being taken down.
However, the museum elected to retain the statue after coming under pressure from the government and when new national measures came into place preventing the replacement or removal of historic monuments without full planning permission.
In response to the latest protest, a spokesperson said: “The Museum of the Home is continuing to explore options for the statue and to listen carefully to all the issues raised.
“We are committed to being open about the history of Geffrye on site and online, and to confront, challenge and learn from the uncomfortable truths of the origins of the Almhouse buildings before they were converted to a museum.
“You can read more at this link on our website, including what we are doing to create a more inclusive and diverse organization.”