Detectives have launched a hate crime investigation after the blue plaque commemorating the life and legacy of David Oluwale was taken from Leeds Bridge within hours of it being unveiled yesterday (25 April 2022).
The plaque was unveiled during a special ceremony, organised by Leeds Civic Trust and supported by the David Oluwale Memorial Association, on Leeds Bridge in the city centre at 5pm on Monday 25 April.
The event concluded at 7pm and it is believed the plaque was likely to have been removed sometime between 9.30pm and 10pm.
Leeds District Commander, Chief Superintendent Damien Miller said:
“It is truly appallingly that someone would remove the plaque commemorating the life of David Oluwale, and we recognise the significant impact that this act will have had on all those involved in keeping David’s memory alive and on the wider community.
“The timing clearly suggests that this has been a deliberately targeted act and we are classing this as a hate crime.
“We are treating this incident very seriously and have detectives from Leeds District CID carrying out extensive enquiries to identify who is responsible and to locate and recover the plaque.
“Leeds Bridge is in a busy area in the heart of the city centre and we would urge anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity or who has any information that could assist the investigation to contact us immediately.”
A joint statement has been issued by Leeds Civic Trust, Leeds City Council and the David Oluwale Memorial Association:
“After such a successful plaque unveiling attended by upwards of 200 people, news that the blue plaque has been stolen from its location on Leeds Bridge is shocking. This follows the earlier daubing of racist graffiti in the city centre including on the Leeds Civic Trust premises. These are cowardly acts from people who are unwilling to debate their views in public. The successful unveiling of the plaque shows how far we have come as a city to combat racism. Its theft shows how much more we need to do.”
Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis said:
“I was proud and honoured to attend the unveiling of the plaque last night. What has happened will not reduce our determination to ensure Leeds is a welcoming city for everyone with racial equality for all.”
Leeds City Council faith champion and chair of the hate crime strategic board Councillor Abigail Marshall Katung said:
“I am determined that this terrible and upsetting news will not stand in the way of us making further progress on race equality in our city. We fully support investigations being undertaken by West Yorkshire Police to find the perpetrators of this despicable act. I look forward to the plaque or a replacement being returned safely to this location very soon.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Leeds District CID via 101 quoting crime reference 13220222118 or online via www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101livechat
Information can also be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
This post is based on a press release issued by West Yorkshire Police