A mural painted on a wall in East London depicting Jewish bankers apparently exploiting black men is set to be removed following complaints that it has anti-Semitic undertones.
The council of the London borough of Tower Hamlets has called in the police and reportedly given the owner of the property 28 days to remove it.
The mural, titled Freedom for Humanity, depicts a group of businessmen and bankers counting money around a Monopoly-style board balanced on the backs of men with dark complexions. It was reportedly spray-painted on private property.
The Los Angeles-based artist, Kalen Ockerman, acknowledged that some of the bankers were Jewish but said the mural was not anti-Semitic.
“My mural is about class and privilege,” he wrote on his Facebook page, and posted a video showing its creation on YouTube. “The banker group is made up of Jewish and white Anglos. For some reason they are saying I am anti-Semitic. This I am most definitely not… What I am against is class.”
Ockerman, born in 1971 in Santa Cruz, California, and based in Los Angeles, works under the name “Mear One.” His website, which currently features the mural prominently, says he has been “described as ‘The Michelangelo of Graffiti’ and ‘The Salvador Dali of Hip-Hop’ and is considered by many to be Los Angeles’ most prolific graffiti artist.”
Lutfur Rahman, the Tower Hamlets mayor, said he “shares concerns” that the mural is anti-Semitic, and that it “perpetuated anti-Semitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.
The mural was painted last month on a wall in Hanbury Street in the Brick Lane area, in what is now a largely Muslim part of East London that was once the heart of the East End Jewish community from the late-1800s until the mid-1900s.
A local council member and long-time resident of East London Peter Golds asked the police to consider prosecuting Ockerman under race hate laws. “When I saw the mural I was shocked. It’s horribly similar to the propaganda used by the Third Reich in Nazi Germany,” said Golds, according to the Daily Mail. “It’s intensely racist and has caused a great deal of offense.”
Mayor Rahman said he had received “a number of complaints that the mural has anti-Semitic images. I share these concerns.
“Whether intentional or otherwise, the images of the bankers perpetuate anti-Semitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions,” Rahman said, according to the Mail. “I have asked my officers to do everything possible to see to it that this mural is removed.”