Street art by El Bocho. Lippmannstraße. Hamburg-Sternschanze, Germany. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.
Back in autumn 2014, shortly after posting a photo of another paste-up by El Bocho, I learnt about the removal of Banksy’s mural in Clacton-on-Sea. It reminded me of this paste-up outside the Hamburg office of the Pirate Party, right underneath the words Welcome Refugees.
Banksy’s mural showed five grey pigeons holding up signs stating “migrants not welcome”, “go back to Africa” and “keep off our worms” to intimidate a colourful migratory swallow. Banksy created the mural in response to the looming by-election in Clacton-on-Sea, triggered by the defection of a local Conservative MP to the UK Independence Party, which campaigns for tougher immigration laws.
Nigel Brown, communications manager for Tendring district council, said it had received a complaint on Tuesday that “offensive and racist remarks” had been painted on a seafront building. “The site was inspected by staff who agreed that it could be seen as offensive and it was removed this morning in line with our policy to remove this type of material within 48 hours,” he said.
Julia O’Connell Davidson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Nottingham, hit the nail on the head when she commented: “Interesting that a mural satirising UKIP is deemed racist and offensive, whereas UKIP’s policy documents and promotional materials spelling out ‘migrants not welcome’ and ‘keep off our worms’ are not.” (Quoted with kind permission)
Ironically, the above-mentioned communications manager also stated: “We would obviously welcome an appropriate Banksy original on any of our seafronts and would be delighted if he returned in the future.”
The removal of Banksy’s mural came only a day after Italy formally ended its year-long “Mare Nostrum” mission, during which its navy rescued over 100,000 shipwrecked refugees in the Mediterranean Sea but were still unable to prevent the deaths of over 3,000 refugees that year alone. Back then, experts warned the death toll would multiply as Europe cut back on its patrols of waters used by migrants. And they did.
Mediterranean death rate doubles as migrant crossings fall | The Guardian
Newspaper Catalogs 33,293 Who Died Trying to Enter Europe | The New York Times