Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Protester Assaulted in Westminster Abbey

LONDON – Within spitting distance of the Queen and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a lone black protester today eluded tight security at Westminster Abbey to denounce the national commemorative service to mark the end of the Atlantic slave trade of Africans 200 years ago.

“This is a disgrace to our ancestors,” shouted the protester, jabbing his finger at Queen Elizabeth and Blair. “Millions of our ancestors are in the Atlantic.”

The man identified as Toyin Agbetu ground the church service to a halt and stunned a crowd of 2,000 gathered in the most famous protestant cathedral in the world.

He got to within three metres of the Queen, who sat emotionless with Prince Phillip at her side. Church officials and several black worshippers surrounded the man, wrestling him to the ground but quickly unhanded him as he shouted, “Let go of me.”

“This is an insult,” the man said, urging the large throng of blacks in the crowd to walk out of the commemorative service, organized by the Church of England, which itself owned some 600 slaves on Caribbean plantations.

Johnny Hogg, a descendant of William Wilberforce, the most famous of the abolitionists who pushed the British Parliament to end the slave trade in 1807, was one seat over from the protester when he rose in the middle of a prayer.

“This is a public relations disaster on a day like today,” Hogg said. “Four white people wrestling a black guy to the ground is not what you want (in news clips and pictures),” he said.

... "a public relations disaster". Yes, because PR is always the most important consideration when things like this happen, right? And notice how the article begins with the characterization of the man being "within spitting distance" of the queen, as if he was a physical threat to her.

Some things just never change...

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