'It doesn't reflect well on our area': Neighbour sends anonymous complaint about family's BLM poster

·3-min read
Amjad Shehata and his family say they have been targeted by neighbours for displaying a Black Lives Matter poster in their window.
Amjad Shehata put up a Black Lives Matter poster to support the movement

A family say they have been targeted by neighbours for displaying a Black Lives Matter poster in their window.

Amjad Shehata and his family placed the poster in a bedroom window in June last year after attending the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in London. 

The killing of George Floyd in May last year led to an outpouring of support against racial injustice across the globe, including in Britain.

Posters supporting BLM could be found in communities throughout the UK, including the Shehata's home. But last week they received an anonymous letter - including a picture of the house with the poster circled - asking them to remove it because it didn't "reflect well" on the local area.

"Whilst I applaud your support for Black Lives Matter, personally, as a local resident, I feel rather as if it's a protest to your neighbours, and neighbourhood, implying that we need to change the way we think," it read.

"That is not the case, we are all on the same side."

The letter then went on to suggest "the notice doesn't reflect well on the local area" and said "imagine if we all put up notices in our windows to visibly show support for good causes, how would South Cheam look?"

AJ Shehata support the Black Lives Matter movement. (AJ Shehata)
AJ Shehata support the Black Lives Matter movement. (AJ Shehata)
The anonymous letter had 'racial undertones' and left AJ 'shocked and upset'(AJ Shehata)
The anonymous letter had 'racial undertones' and left AJ 'shocked and upset'(AJ Shehata)

Amjad, known as AJ, said that his father Hassan first saw the letter, and put a photo on a family WhatsApp chat. 

"At first I couldn't believe what I was reading," he told Yahoo News UK. "I couldn't comprehend it. I took a step back and laughed. But then I read on and it was scary. The racist undertones are obvious and it feels intimidating and unnerving to know somebody has sent a picture of my house to me in this way."

The letter continued: "Sadly, many of the young black lives taken these days are by young blacks themselves - hopefully one day that will change."

AJ Shehata said he now feels uneasy in the south London area he grew up in (AJ Shehata)
AJ Shehata said he now feels uneasy in the south London area he grew up in. (AJ Shehata)

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Shehata, a deputy manager at a private medical clinic who recently got a job as a chef in a London restaurant, has lived in Cheam Village with his family since he was eight years old.

He said: "My family are from Sudan but my two sisters, my brother and I were all born and raised in England. 

"Cheam Village, where we live, is predominantly white, but I have never experienced something like this here before.

"What has happened has opened my eyes. There are not many ethnic minorities in this area and I'm now wondering how many other neighbours are looking at me and my family like this. It's very upsetting. It's shocking."

Shehata said he hoped that by sharing the letter on Twitter he could raise awareness of hostility towards BLM supporters. He said: "If that had been an NHS poster there's no way we would have received such a letter. 

"We wanted to show solidarity with the cause. It's not an offensive poster, it's just a show of support.

"It’s an awful situation, but spreading awareness is the silver lining here."