Labour council chiefs have prompted a row with residents by taking the knee.
Four managers at Salford City Council, in Greater Manchester, took the knee in a line outside their headquarters last week to mark the third anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man in the US, by a white police officer.
The four staff, led by the £160,000-a-year chief executive Tom Stannard, posed with the gesture in a photograph, with one of them raising a Black Power salute. Both actions were used widely during the divisive Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.
The Labour stronghold council posted it on Twitter alongside the caption: “Today @SalfordCouncil marked the third anniversary of the murder of #GeorgeFloyd.
“May he rest in peace. We will continue to push for a more inclusive society for all.”
An angry backlash
Despite the gesture, Salford City Council’s workforce is almost entirely white, with those from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds accounting for just 8 per cent of staff.
The stunt has sparked an angry backlash, with residents pointing out that the murder was in the US, not Salford.
The council has now locked down its Twitter account and become “private”, meaning the public can no longer see its posts.
A spokesman claimed this was because “we are currently addressing concerns regarding targeted, unacceptable abuse against individuals and the council on Twitter” in response to the taking of the knee post.
But residents were bemused, with some venting their frustrations online. One, Chris Hawkins, claimed on Twitter that he had been blocked by the council for his “critical [but] non-abusive” response to the picture, adding: “I pay them my council tax. Now [I’m] blocked from seeing anything the council has to say.”
‘Sticking their fingers in their ears isn’t good enough’
Toby Young, general secretary of the Free Speech Union, said: “If Salford councillors are going to advertise their allegiance to a hard-Left and now completely discredited political movement [Black Lives Matter], they have an obligation to defend themselves from the people who pay their wages, i.e council tax payers in Salford.