RESIDENTS in Abingdon have slammed their town’s community Facebook group after they were told they could not express their support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and anti-racism.

Administrators of the Abingdon-on-Thames Facebook group removed a post that was shared on the page about the BLM protest that took place in Oxford last Wednesday.

They said it was removed because it was promoting an event that was taking place in Oxford, not Abingdon.

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They also said the post caused ‘heated’ comments which goes against the group’s rules.

One of the administrators of the public group, Martin Himpson, said: “The initial post ended up in ranting and disrespect on both sides. No one is ‘against’ BLM. No one thinks the death of George Floyd is acceptable. No one should be persecuted for their colour/creed or any other protected characteristic.

“But this group is not here for political posts. Please take it elsewhere.”

Oxford Mail:

However some residents who support BLM feel this is not fair as events that have taken place in other areas of Oxfordshire have been shared in the group, but have not been removed.

They feel that a protest supporting anti-racism and human rights should not be something that is shunned away from the people of Abingdon.

They decided to create an Abingdon BLM protest event instead and promoted it on the Facebook group, but this too was removed.

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Neda May, 22, from Abingdon, said: “The moderators of the page removed it saying that it was creating too much “heat” and “tension”.

“While the role of the moderators is indeed to intervene when this happens, they should not remove posts that are simply informative.

“The posting about these events is designed only to inform those who would exercise their democratic right to protest, and they are not opinion pieces.

“I think the censorship of these posts shows an attitude within Abingdon which frightens me.

“As a person of colour I have experienced racism, in this town and beyond it, and this attitude implies at best an ignorance of the issue and at worst they show they disagree with the incredibly important Black Lives Matter movement.”

Oxford Mail:

Another Abingdon resident, 20-year-old Iya Kadi, spoke out against the admins by posting her view on the group that being silent and not talking about racism is not enough to tackle the problem.

She said racism was not political, that there was nothing controversial about black civil rights and that people should be allowed to express their support of the Black Lives Matter movement on the group.

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But her post was also removed.

Oxford Mail:

She said: “I just want to feel safe knowing that as an individual of BAME, I can trust the people of this town in their support in something that should not be deemed as “controversial” or “political” but much rather obligatory.”

Out of the three administrators contacted, one of them denied ever being an administrator and the others failed to comment before this paper went to print.