Did Jeremy Corbyn back artist whose mural was condemned as antisemitic?


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn apparently backed the painting of a mural which was condemned as having antisemitic undertones.

The graphic, 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, in 2012.

It depicted a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money. The mural was painted on the end wall of a private property, but was removed by local authorities after complaints from residents .

It has emerged that Mr Corbyn offered apparent support to Mr Ockerman at the time.

When the artist wrote on Facebook that the mural was to be removed, Mr Corbyn responded with a message from his personal Facebook account.

Mr Corbyn wrote: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

Mr Corbyn's Facebook comment asking why the work was being removed

That was an apparent reference to the removal in 1934 of a work by left-wing Mexican artist Diego Rivera from Manhattan’s Rockefeller Centre. Rivera’s piece had been interpreted as anti-capitalist.

Mr Ockerman’s Freedom for Humanity was criticised by Lutfur Rahman, the controversial Tower Hamlets mayor at the time.

He said he was concerned the work could be interpreted as offensive to Jews because “the images of the bankers perpetuate antisemitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions”.

Mr Corbyn’s office has been asked to comment on his apparent support for Mr Ockerman.

The artwork was also commended by journalist Yvonne Ridley, who wrote on Facebook that it was “very moving and a wonderful piece of art – what’s wrong with it?”.

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