Western Morning News (Saturday)

Racism probe after backlash over flags

- WMN REPORTER wmnnewsdes­k@reachplc.com

POLICE are investigat­ing after a town’s mayor was racially abused in a row over the removal of Union Jack flags.

Cllr Nicole Broadhurst, a black female mayor, was targeted by a barrage of hateful racist comments on social media for ordering 18 flags to be taken down from the promenade.

They were displayed on the new flagpoles installed by Cornwall Council in Penzance on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the UK leaving the European Union.

But neither Cornwall Council or Penzance Town Council granted permission and the flags were also labelled a health and safety hazard due to the recent stormy weather.

Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed it was now investigat­ing racist comments made on social media.

Cllr Broadhurst, Lord Mayor of Penzance, who declined to comment on the racism probe, said: “Penzance Council didn’t authorise these or have anything to do with their installati­on.

“We are working with Cornwall Council and the flags will be taken down.”

Cllr Broadhurst said they were not removed because they were Union flags but because they were unauthoris­ed.

She added: “If they were Peppa Pig flags or St Piran flags or EU flags they would still have to come down if no permission had been given for them to be put up.”

Several town councillor­s said they supported reinstatin­g the flags but criticised the abusive and racist com

Union flags fly from new flagpoles on Penzance promenade on New Year’s Day. Below: mayor Cllr Nicole Broadhurst ments made on Facebook, which included death threats.

Cllr Nigel Pengelly said: “The vile, personal abuse dished out over some flags is embarrassi­ng, shameful and sickening. It’s a bunch of flags people, get over yourselves.”

Beresford Lee, chairman of Black Voices Cornwall, added: “When a parade of Union Jack flags appeared along the promenade seafront in Penzance without the consent of the council, is this not correct that the action should be corrected?

“So, in doing her job as councillor and Lord Mayor of Penzance, Nicole Broadhurst arranged to have the flags removed.

“The backlash of this request had woken the evil face of hate and racism targeted at Nicole Broadhurst.

“Racism is an addiction. Racism has become a mindset. People can only change their mindset by acknowledg­ing that there is a problem.”

Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We can confirm that police in Penzance are investigat­ing a report that racist comments had been posted on Facebook.”

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