Pensioner repaints black figure on totem pole white after complaint
Pensioner who repainted black figure on giant totem pole so that it was white blasts ‘woke’ neighbour who complained it was ‘racist’ because it ‘looked like a golliwog’
- The pole in Brantham, Essex, has attracted claims of racism from locals
- Families’ outrage has been centred mostly on a ‘golliwog’ black figure
- Brian Connery has since repainted the figure white to avoid further offence
A pensioner who repainted a black figure on a giant totem pole in his front garden after police received a ‘woke’ complaint that it was racist has been supported by his neighbours.
Brian Connery erected the 10ft decorative wooden feature earlier this summer in front of his bungalow in Brantham, Suffolk.
But one villager took exception to a carved figure on the pole showing a grinning black man with bright white teeth and a blue suit.
The anonymous local sparked an investigation into a potential hate crime by contacting Suffolk Police, and reporting that the figure had ‘racist overtones’.
Mr Connery has now painted the back face white to avoid causing any further offence, despite receiving widespread support from other villagers.
Police are said to have ruled that they did not believe Mr Connery had committed a hate crime after interviewing him and examining the totem pole which is on full view to passing pedestrians and motorists.
A pensioner who repainted a black figure on a giant totem pole in his front garden after police received a ‘woke’ complaint in Brantham, Suffolk
A carved figure on the pole which depicted a grinning black man with bright white teeth and a blue suit has now been repainted
Shotley Peninsular Nub News said officers recorded it as ‘a possible public order offence, due to the visual representation which caused alarm and distress to members of the public’.
The news website reported that the police suggested the black figure be ‘moved from such obvious public view’.
Mr Connery who lives with his wife Susan and rives a pick up truck decorated with pictures of bison and Indian chiefs, confirmed that he had repainted the black man’s face.
He said: ‘That is the agreement I had. All I want to say is that someone made a complaint it was racist, and I repainted it white, and that’s it.
‘The police were happy with it. Everyone was happy with it. They were happy with it before it was white.
‘My neighbours have been supportive. There have been 93 comments on Facebook and none of them were against me. It is just that somebody is woke.’
Mr Connery has now painted the back face white to avoid causing any further offence, despite receiving widespread support from other villagers
It is believed that Mr Connery insisted to police that his totem pole was a piece of art and he had no intention of it being perceived as racist or hateful.
The other brightly coloured figures on the pole — two owls, an eagle and a horned skull of a cow — have not been altered.
The villager, who complained to police, told Shotley Peninsular Nub News that the depiction of the black figure was racist.
The unidentified local resident said: ‘It is pretty clearly meant to be a Negro figure, wearing a tuxedo and cravat/bow tie, dressed like a blackface minstrel, golliwog or similar figure, so fairly 20th century.
‘That’s not an American Indian symbol, nor as abstract as any such symbols might be. It is what it looks like. And it’s meant to be offensive.’
The villager also highlighted concerns about the supposed racist connotations of Mr Connery sometimes flying the Confederate flag on a flagpole in his front garden.
The totem pole in Brian Connery’s front garden in Brantham, Suffolk, featuring the black figure which he has now repainted white after someone complained to police that it was racist
The local resident said: ‘The garden frequently displays southern US flags associated with racism, which is pretty borderline itself.’
But an elderly neighbour whose home overlooks the totem pole, described Mr Connery as ‘a lovely man’ and said she had ‘no problem’ with the totem pole.
She said: ‘I have lived here for 65 years. I am not bothered by it at all.’
Another passer-by who asked not to be named, said: ‘You can’t miss the totem pole because it so big, but I never really noticed it had a black figure.
‘I can see how it might upset some people, but it would not bother me. I can’t see it really matters. You get black people and you get white people.’
Mr Connery’s next door neighbour who only gave his name as Robert said: ‘I have got no complaints.
‘I think he put up the totem pole a few weeks ago because he has got a bit of a thing about American Indians.
‘To be honest I did not really notice what was on the pole. If people are going to complain about something like this, it is about time they got a life.’
Robert’s wife Marion said: ‘Brian has lots of different flags that he flies. Right now, he is flying the England flag, but sometimes he has American ones.
‘He was flying the England fan during the Euros football tournament and he had it at half mast when Prince Philip died.’
Another near neighbour, said: ‘I have got nothing against his totem pole. I have never taken much notice of it. I just think it’s a shame that some people complain about anything these days.’
A Suffolk Police spokesperson confirmed that a complaint had been made.
The spokesperson said: ‘Police are aware of the concerns raised by members of the public and are engaging with the homeowner regarding the matter.’
One Facebook user said: ‘The world has gone mad! Anyone who thinks that totem pole is racist, needs to give their head a shake.’
Another added in a post: ‘Would people complain if the figure was white? No they would not. I think it brightens up the place.’
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