Peterborough Conservative chief criticised for Black Lives Matter comments
The leader of the Conservatives in Peterborough was labelled ‘disrespectful’ for his critical comments about Black Lives Matter.
But Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald has stood by his remarks which he made in a message to a resident and which have since been shared on social media.
The recently elected Conservative group leader had begun his message with the words: “ALL LIVES MATTER,” while in a follow-up response he sent across a photo of his daughter, her husband and their two children to “reassure you of my good intentions towards people regardless of race, colour or anything else”.
The Tory chief’s son-in-law is black, and his grandchildren are of mixed race.
Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, he said: “I stand by what I said in reply to a resident that wrote to me, in that ‘all lives matter,’ not just those that are black.
“I, like most of the public, do not support those who act in extreme ways, for example, in the name of BLM by tearing down statues and defacing public monuments like that of Sir Winston Churchill.
“The same goes for Extinction Rebellion.
“This unacceptable behaviour has been witnessed and well documented by the media in recent times and is both shocking and disturbing. My own view on both groups has nothing to do with racism as is now being suggested by political opponents.
“There is no room for racism in any situation in our modern society and I will defend a person’s rights to be treated fairly and without discrimination of any kind.’’
Cllr Fitzgerald has also posted about the messages on his professional Facebook page, including an “apology” he received from the person he had originally corresponded with.
But Paige Fraser, from Black Lives Matter Peterborough, told the PT: “The comments I have seen from Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald regarding Black Lives Matter are not only disrespectful but upsetting.
“Firstly, there should be no reason to bring up the fact that his grandchildren were of dual heritage and have black in them.
“We are not a rare pet where if you have one of us in your family you are automatically exempt from prejudice - it’s ridiculous.
“And secondly, the fact that he has labelled us an extremist group is in essence calling our struggles, upset and pain extreme and therefore unwarranted. As a black female I feel unsupported by the council and governments and unwanted.
“And if a statue is the only negative thing you can throw off the top of your head to try and discredit us then maybe Mr Wayne Fitzgerald should come and actually speak to members of the black community and see all the amazing, positive and courageous things which are happening with the BLM community to raise awareness.
“It’s just a big kick in the teeth as a black woman in Peterborough. I would be very interested to have a sit down chat and discuss all the negative issues he feels that BLM brings and to offer alternative viewpoints.”
Councillor Fitzgerald reacted angrily to some of those comments, he said: “I am disgusted by the response given. That they assume I am prejudiced and that I would see my grandchildren as ‘pets’ is deeply offensive. This is a disgusting statement and a disgusting reference to my family.”