A spokesman for local police in Southend has confirmed that a number of posters were removed from Southend Seafront earlier this morning over fears that they were ‘inciting racial hatred’ – the posters included a crowded image of a Southend beach along with the words ‘SEND THEM BACK’ in large lettering.
PC Gordon Arbage of the Southend Seafront Taskforce told Southend News Network’s Chief Reporter that 75 of the posters were taken down from various town centre sites, and he also confirmed that officers had caught up with the individual concerned and offered some words of advice.
He added: ‘Shortly after removing the last of the posters, we spotted the member of the public who had put them all up, and we had a chat with him to develop a clear understanding of the meaning behind the messages – this is our standard operating procedure to try and decide if a criminal offence has been committed.’
‘When he was asked for an explanation behind the photo of a packed Southend beach with a number of people in culturally-diverse clothing and the message ‘SEND THEM BACK,’ he told us that he was trying to make a statement about the sheer amount of rubbish that is left behind on our town’s beaches after every bank holiday and weekend – he made it perfectly clear that the phrase was referring to the fact that all items of rubbish needed to be ‘sent back’ to the homes of the people that had dropped them in the first place.’
‘At the time of this informal questioning that was not carried out under a state of arrest, and we asked the gentleman to clarify if he was in fact referring to the ethnic background of the people who had allegedly dropped the rubbish in the photo – he made it absolutely clear that this was never his intention.’
‘He pointed out that a number of his friends are of African-American origin, and as such he was in no position to be making any kind of statements that would incite a level of racial hatred.’
According to a number of people who were in the area at the time earlier this morning, the man involved was named as Morris Slee, and he told Southend News Network that he was ‘disgusted’ at the attitude of the officers.
He said: ‘Like every other decent citizen in Southend, I am passionate about our beaches being kept as clean as possible when thousands of people come to enjoy this golden mile of our beautiful Essex coastline, and so for the August Bank Holiday weekend I decided to take matters into my own hands.’
‘As per usual in this country of ridiculous levels of political correctness, my message got twisted, misinterpreted and turned around, and suddenly I am being labelled as some kind of right-wing nutjob. Is it really a hate crime to demand that discarded coke cans, crisp packets and half-eaten scotch eggs get sent back home to be disposed of responsibly?’
‘Obviously my message wasn’t acceptable for the powers that be, and so without my posters even more of our council tax money will be diverted towards paying for yet another big clean up on Tuesday morning when they should just be emptying the bins!’