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A former councillor has admitted to targeting a museum dedicated to beloved 19th century author Charles Dickens after being inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement

por Kasha Wanganeen (02/07/2020)


A former councillor has admitted to targeting a museum dedicated to beloved 19th century author Charles Dickens after being inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Ian Driver scrawled  'Dickens Racist, Dickens Racist,' on the outside of the The Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs, Kent, and attempted to black-out the lettering on a street sign for nearby Dickens Road.

The carer wore a denim jacket and cream shorts as he took to the streets in the dead of night on Saturday to campaign against what he claims is 'institutionalised racism' in the seaside town. 

The museum on the East Kent coast inspired the home of Betsey Trotwood, a character in the novel David Copperfield, which was released in full in 1950. 

Mr Driver, who was a Green Party councillor for four years until 2015, said today: 'I have been campaigning for quite a long time about what I regard to be institutional racism in Thanet and Broadstairs in particular.

Ian Driver pictured scrawling graffiti on the Charles Dickens museum in Broadstairs, Kent, on Saturday

Mr Driver (pictured) admitted daubing the graffiti in the seaside town of Broadstairs

Dickens House, a museum in Broadstairs, Kent, dedicated to the Victorian author, was daubed with graffiti by Mr Driver over the weekend

'The Broadstairs Folk Week allow, encourage and fund Morris dancers to black up but won't do anything about it.

I think it is quite demeaning towards black people and there is no justification for it.

'But after the Black Lives Matter protests and seeing people learn their local history like the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, I decided to do some digging into my hometown of 12 years.

'Charles Dickens is celebrated in Broadstairs like a local hero and money maker just because he wrote a few books here.

In reality, he was a notorious genocidal racist and should be depicted as such. That's the real Dickens.

'He supported the Morant Bay rebellion in Jamaica in 1865, the suppression of the Indian rebellion in 1857 saying their race should be wiped out and also referred to black and Asian people as savages.

'There is no defending him yet there is a whole museum dedicated to him on my doorstep with no mention of his other life as a racist.

Mr Driver said he has long campaigned against folk week in the seaside town

'The National Portrait Gallery even has a few paragraphs explaining this other side of history.

I think it's important to get both sides and a balanced view.'

In his blog today he added that he has no regrets about what he did and 'I will be making no apology.' 

The father-of-three said he is expecting to be contacted by the police 

Mr Driver was already under investigation by Kent Police for vandalising a box erected over a 'racist' memorial to Uncle Mack, who ran a minstrel group in blackface on the local beach in the early 19th Century, after a Black Lives Matter protest on June 13.

He claims Broadstairs Town Council's vote to keep the plaque on June 24 was 'totally provocative and tour Lệ Giang racist' and forced him to take 'direct action as a last resort'.

But the father-of-three says he has 'no regrets whatsoever' over his latest demonstration and is expecting officers to knock on the door of his Broadstairs home 'any minute.'

He added: 'I will go to court and fight my case.

If I had my way, the museum would be shut down

'The council is not listening and has no intention of addressing these issues. I believe that Broadstairs is Racism-on-Sea.

'The Black Lives Matter campaign is uncovering history we shouldn't be celebrating.
Some of the things these people said and did would be appalling even in their own times - it's not just outdated views.'  

Dickens Road, which is less than 10 minutes walk away from the Broadstairs museum was painted over with black ink 

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Dickens was said to have visited the home regularly for tea and cake with its owners at the time.

Amid growing calls from the Black Lives Matter movement to remove statues and monuments of racist figures. 

A statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down and dumped into Bristol Harbour earlier this month, while statues to Oliver Cromwell, Lord Holland and Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat in Parliament, have all been defaced in recent weeks.  

By the end of the 19th century the museum had come to be known as Dickens House, before it was opened a museum to the writer in 1973. 

During his life and more so after his death in 1870, Charles Dickens' writing has been criticised as antisemitic and racist.