David Oluwale: Blue bridge plaque theft is being treated as a hate crime

David Oluwale - Leeds Blue Plaque 2022source: BBC News
published: 27 April 2022

The theft of a blue plaque honouring a British-Nigerian man who drowned after he was chased by police is being treated as a hate crime. The memorial to David Oluwale, on Leeds Bridge, disappeared just hours after it was officially unveiled on Monday.

Members of the campaign group who lobbied for its installation said it had been prised off the wall and taken. West Yorkshire Police said the timing of the theft suggested it was a “deliberately targeted act”.

The plaque commemorating Mr Oluwale had been placed near the spot where he entered the River Aire in 1969. An unveiling ceremony organised by Leeds Civic Trust ended at about 19:00 BST on Monday, police said, and the theft is thought to have occurred between 21:30 and 22:00.

Dr Emily Zobel Marshall, co-founder of the David Oluwale Memorial Association, said she was “devastated” by the plaque’s disappearance. “What is so sad is that it was such an uplifting event and brought in such an intergenerational, diverse crowd, and it is a blow but it doesn’t stop us in our tracks,” Dr Zobel Marshall said. A “spate of racist graffiti” at the civic trust’s offices and on the bridge prior to the theft led her to believe it was targeted.

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Leeds Civic Trust statement on theft of the blue plaque
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