A NEWPORT shopkeeper has been forced by police to remove a T-shirt from his shop window because they felt it “could be seen to be inciting racial hatred.”
Matthew Taylor, 35, the owner of Taylor’s clothes store on Emlyn Walk in the city, printed up and displayed the T-shirt with the slogan: “Obey our laws, respect our beliefs or get out of our country” after Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, was killed in near Woolwich barracks in London last week.
But following a complaint from a member of the public, police came to his store and threatened to arrest him unless he removed the Tshirt from sight.
Mr Taylor said: “I had a visit from two CSOs (community support officers) because it has been reported by someone who felt it was offensive.
“It’s not meant to be offensive.
I didn’t produce it to be offensive. It’s what I believe.
“At the end of the day if you don’t like the way a country is run and don’t like our beliefs then go somewhere else, don’t go killing people.
“I don’t care if you Welsh, Scottish, English, go somewhere else if you don’t like it.”
Mr Taylor said obviously the killing of Drummer Rigby had been in his mind, but having lived in Chepstow close to Beachley barracks for a number of years the armed forces were particularly close to his heart.
He said the T-shirt seemed to have gone down well.
“I had one person shout that it was ‘disgusting’ but on the whole most people have reacted positively to it,” Mr Taylor said.
“I think the person who reported me was a bit too sensitive and hasn’t read it properly.
“I don’t see it as racist. I took it down because it is meant to be a statement about any race. Any colour.
“I’m offended I have had to take it down. I can’t see why I can’t share my beliefs,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Gwent police confirmed: “ We did have a call from a member of the public. We visited the shop and asked him to remove it (the T-shirt) as it could be seen to be inciting racial hatred.”
‘I see police point of view’ - MP
CHAIRMAN of the Welsh affairs select committee, David Davies MP said: “ I think the police are well aware of that (the current heightened tensions between communities) and I can see their point of view.
It’s a very sensitive time.
“But I can see this guy’s point of view and the statement he is making. You should not be in this country if you are not prepared to obey the laws.
I think the vast majority of people in this country of all races would agree with that.
So I don’t think it is a racist matter at but I can see the police’s point of view.”
Newport city councillor, Majid Rahman said: “I believe in freedom of speech and defend his rights to say what he wants, but once it starts offending people then it’s a police matter and it’s up to them whether they think it’s broken any laws.”