Last week, the quiet district of Walthamstow in east London, which is now one of the most ethnically diverse areas in London, was hit by a string of very unpleasant, very racist messages which were graffitied on the homes throughout the town.
At least four messages of racist content have been reported by residents who horrifically woke up to find “SPEAK ENGLISH” spray painted onto their walls, fences or garage doors.
News travels fast these days, and soon the word of this vandalism traveled well beyond the streets of Walthamstow after the Local MP Stella Creasy posted about the incident on Facebook.
Creasy denounced the cowardly, disgusting act of vandalism on Facebook as hate speech and merely encouraged her constituents to instead celebrate their diversity by responding with a “big show of love”.
“Together we can drown out this little hate with a big show of love, and in doing so send a clear message that when you target one of us you get all of us standing up to fight back.”
And thankfully, one local artist seemed to take that message completely to heart.
— Chris Walker (@doodlebank) November 28, 2018
With a touch of Photoshop magic, the Walthamstow resident, Chris Walker, managed to turn the hateful graffiti into something that wonderfully celebrated the area’s diversity.
Walker, who works as a digital designer and illustrator was himself born in Walthamstow and told Indy100 that for locals, multiculturalism has pretty much always been the backbone of the community.
So when Walker noticed that the vandal had stupidly left a large amount of room around the graffiti he decided to “fill in the blanks” and create something that better fit the spirit of Walthamstow. And I got to tell you, it is truly beautiful.
Unsurprisingly, pretty soon his positive “re-vamp” of the graffiti went viral and of course, people from all over, praised his message of unity and love over hate.
This is great. Someone turned some racist graffiti in Walthamstow into something a lot more welcoming. pic.twitter.com/08CVAUjqta
— Ellie Levenson (@EllieLevenson) November 29, 2018
The remix is better than the original. https://t.co/WzERoYgKEO
— Tommy Palmer (@tommypalm) November 29, 2018
Can we add love to the languages spoken?
Too cheesy? pic.twitter.com/DDA4Ryqjf8
— AnneMarie Silbiger (@Happimess73) November 30, 2018
Racist graffiti in Walthamstow, London.
Excellent response ? pic.twitter.com/DgoGbt3cTU
— Brendan McGeever (@b_mcgeever) November 29, 2018
“I’m not sure my little protest can stop things like this happening, but the response to it has, I hoped, brought the community together in speaking out and served to reassure that this is a minority view and that everyone is welcome in E17 and always will be.”
Walker definitely got his wish in the end though, as soon community members were banding together in order to organize the planting of 6000 flowers in a local park as another “big show of love.”
In response to nasty racist "SPEAK ENGLISH" graffiti popping up around #Walthamstow, Queens Boundary Community's hosting an event this Sunday to show solidarity & unity against racism plus an opportunity to strengthen friendships between neighbours of all cultures (contd) pic.twitter.com/t9a7ZcHFQU
— TallulahTangle (@TallulahTangle) November 28, 2018