Community rallies around Leeds mum who received abuse for her Black Lives Matter poster

A Leeds community has rallied behind a mum-of-one who received abuse after putting up a poster supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 6:00 am

Jessica O'Shea, 30, of Rodley, created a poster, featuring her 11-month-old daughter Aida's handprint, to show her strength of feeling for the cause which calls for an end to violence and systemic racism towards black people.

But she said within 30 minutes of it being displayed at her home, a group of adults banged on her window, shouting 'All lives matter' and 'Why have you got it up?'

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Jessica O'Shea and daughter Aida, 11 months, with their homemade poster. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Jessica immediately took down the poster but after writing about her experience on a local Facebook group, she was flooded with support from the local community - who have since made copies of her poster to display in their own homes.

Jessica told the Yorkshire Evening Post she was "heartbroken" at the abuse and having to remove the poster.

"I just felt like it was pointless anyone doing anything - it was going to fall on deaf ears."

But she said her faith was quickly restored following the response to her frustrated Facebook post.

Jessica and Aida's poster

"I was just overwhelmed with the amount of people who said nice things. It just goes show you how many good people there are out there. It's just amazing what everyone has done."

Local business owner Alex Rogerson, 36, who runs Grumpy's Bar and Wood-fired Pizza in nearby Farsley created a batch of Jessica's posters for people to take from outside the restaurant.

She said: "I was shocked by what happened. Our community is really close-knit and supportive - that's what I've experienced as a local business owner. The fact that it has a child's handprint on it - people would have known that there was a child in the house. And when she said she took it down I just thought 'Oh, don't do that!'

"I noticed someone [in the Facebook group] had printed out her poster and thought that was a brilliant idea and really empowering. I have a printer and am a graphic designer so I printed some off and put them at the restaurant so people could grab one, as there were a lot of people saying they would like a copy."

She said a Grumpy's instagram post explaining what they had done has since been 'liked' over 500 times.

"We also had loads of comments and no-one has said anything negative. It's been really nice to see - it's the positivity that we all needed," Alex added.

Jessica has now reinstated her poster but admitted it did "take a while" adding: "It's so hard to explain to people how you feel when you are the person that isn't white and putting it up, if that makes sense."

She said: "Even now I'm still nervous. But [Black Lives Matter] is a whole movement and everyone needs to play their part. If it's just me putting a poster in my window and going to sleep worried, then that may be something I just have to do."

Jessica stressed now is the time to "build on this momentum" and support the Black Lives Matter campaign to help make change for "humanity and our children".

She said: "We’ve come to terms that it’s not going to happen in our lives, therefore Black Lives Matter is about the children. Black Lives Matter is about where we can make positive changes for the next generation."

She added: "Saying ‘All lives matter’ is selfish and offensive and is another way of silencing the people who are trying to ensure their children see someone that looks like their families in the books at school; someone who looks like their great-grandparents on the WW2 display and not just for one day a year as tokenism."

Jessica, a teacher, urged people to research the issues and stressed everything needs to be diverse - books, toys, music and language - to "continually reinforce equality".

She added: "To everyone that has shown support and solidarity from one single poster - thank you for showing your love and kindness for humanity. Let’s continue to educate our children so peace can become normality."

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