Police arrest man after Charles Dickens museum in Kent targeted with graffiti

June 30, 2020

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of criminal damage after graffiti was found on the side of a Charles Dickens museum in Kent.

The attraction in Broadstairs, which was the author's inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield, had the words "Dickens racist" written on the front of the property.

It appeared over the weekend and a Kent Police spokesman said the 63-year-old suspect remained in custody as enquiries continue.

Thanet District Council, which runs the Dickens House Museum, has criticised the graffiti.

In a statement to KentOnline, a council spokesman said: "As a council, we comply with our Public Sector Equality Duty and are committed to tackling racial inequality but there is still more to be done.

"The Black Lives Matter protests are an important reminder that we must never become complacent about any form of inequality so, as part of this, we are reviewing all the statues and commemorations within the district.

"We do not, however, condone damage to public property and have had the graffiti removed this morning."

Like other museums up and down the UK, Dickens House Museum has had to remain closed due to coronavirus.

Such venues will be allowed to reopen in England from this Saturday.

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While Dickens - who died in 1870 - is championed for his works and sympathetic portrayals of the poor and British working class, his writing has been subject to criticism due to racist and xenophobic language.

In Oliver Twist, one of his most famous books, the character Fagin - who runs a school teaching children how to be pickpockets in 19th century London - is repeatedly referred to as "the Jew" and is portrayed as a horrible person.

According to an Anthology of Chartist Poetry, Dickens also endorsed British colonial policy and was left furious by the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

In a private letter to Baroness Burdett-Coutts, Dickens said if he was commander in chief in India, he would do his "utmost to exterminate the race upon whom the stain of the late cruelties rested".

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