Town Hall quickly removes ‘Free Palestine’ graffiti around Broadway Market following complaints

The repainted bridge where the graffiti was spotted. Photograph: Martin Sugarman

Street cleaners acted swiftly last week to remove graffiti that appeared on the streets of Hackney following the attacks on Israel by Hamas.

Martin Sugarman, who chairs Hackney-Haifa Twinning, reported three painted slogans saying ‘Free Palestine’ on the Cat and Mutton Bridge and on a wall near Broadway Market.

He contacted senior politicians, including Speaker Anya Sizer and Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier, to get “this disgraceful graffiti” removed as soon as possible.

He thought it appeared overnight between Monday 9 October and Tuesday 10 October, following the previous weekend’s attack on Israel by Hamas.

“This stuff spreads fear and social anger unless it is stopped soon,” he said.

He spotted the slogans on the same day as the bodies of more than 100 Jewish Israeli people were found shot at border villages by Hamas, bringing the death toll at the time to more than 1,200 Israelis.

Sugarman said the daubed messages are “truly barbaric and mock the death of now 1,000-plus unarmed, innocent people in their homes in south Israel”.

Hackney Speaker Anya Sizer told him she was “devastated” by what had happened.

Cllr Chris Kennedy, the cabinet member for health, adult social care and culture, contacted the community safety and traffic departments about the slogans.

Hackney’s street-cleaning teams raced to get the graffiti removed as swiftly as possible.

Sugarman praised them for painting over it rapidly.

Hackney Council’s interim chief executive Dawn Carter-McDonald said in a statement: “We have a proud tradition of respect and understanding in Hackney which has helped ensure the safety and security of all our residents.

“Any attempt to use the recent appalling events to provoke abuse or violence in Hackney will be treated with utmost seriousness.

“We received reports of antisemitic graffiti, which we removed immediately. We work closely with our partners in the police and the community year-round to ensure that hate crimes are investigated and those responsible are held to account.

“We urge anyone who sees or experiences antisemitism or other forms of hate crime to report it to the police or to the council.”

Police have sought to reassure the local community after the conflict broke out.

Hackney’s borough commander, James Conway, said: “We are listening and working with communities, including the Jewish and Muslim communities, and partners and charities to ensure people feel safe and protected.

“We ask that members of the public report anything concerning, such as threatening behaviour.”

Police have stepped up patrols across key areas of London and are in touch with synagogues, mosques, and businesses to give them safety advice.

Conway said: “We are clear that antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any other racial and faith-based discrimination, will not be tolerated.

“There is no place for hatred in our society and anyone who has been subjected to hate crime should not suffer in silence.”

He urged people to report any incident on 101, or on 999 in an emergency.

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