Mayor: Tower Hamlets mural ‘to be removed’

A mural depicting money-grabbing bankers and highlighting Western imperialism conspiracy theories will be removed following complaints that it contains antisemitic undertones.

Freedom for Humanity was painted on a property near Brick Lane in London’s East End by renowned international graffiti artist Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One.

It depicts a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money.

The mural is painted on the end wall of a private property, but Tower Hamlets Council said it was liaising with police to have the image removed.

Lutfur Rahman, the Tower Hamlets mayor, said: “I have received a number of complaints that the mural has antisemitic images. I share these concerns. Whether intentional or otherwise, the images of the bankers perpetuate antisemitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions.

“Where freedom of expression runs the risk of inciting racial hatred then it is right that such expression should be curtailed. I have asked my officers to do everything possible to see to it that this mural is removed.”

Mr Ockerman is based in Los Angeles and completed the Tower Hamlets mural last month. On his Facebook page he admitted the mural was intended to depict Jewish bankers.

He wrote: “A group of conservatives do not like my mural and are playing a race card with me. My mural is about class and privilege. The banker group is made up of Jewish and white Anglos. For some reason they are saying I am antisemitic. This I am most definitely not… What I am against is class.”

Mr Ockerman asked supporters to “rally” at the mural and stop any attempts to remove it.

Local resident Andrew Conway complained to Mr Ockerman, who responded by calling him a “moron”. Mr Conway said: “I accept Mear One is not antisemitic, but this image of hook-nosed, money-grabbing Jews is highly offensive. Whatever the intention was, the mural is not acceptable.”

Peter Golds, a Tower Hamlets Tory councillor, said he would report the artist to the police for incitement to racial hatred. “I am horrified by this mural. It bears an awful similarity to antisemitic propaganda produced in pre-war Germany”.

Last updated: 10:31am, October 5 2012