‘Mindless’ vandals target new street signs after Black Boy Lane renamed

Mindless” vandals have painted over the new name for Black Boy Lane, just a day after seminal black author and poet John La Rose’s family were honoured at an official unveiling.

Black Boy Lane in Tottenham was changed to La Rose Lane after residents complained of the racist connotations – but vandals struck that night painting over the new name on Monday.

Sharing an image of the vandalism, leader of Haringey council Peray Ahmet, tweeted: “Really sad and disappointed to have been sent this today.

“This follows a fantastic launch yesterday where we celebrated the life and legacy of John La Rose. What could this ever achieve beyond mindless vandalism.”

John La Rose founded the first Caribbean publishing company in Britain New Beacon Books in nearby Finsbury Park

/ Barney Davis

The council’s former leader council leader Joseph Ejiofor Tweeted: “Really sad. The haters and the racists are at it already. They need to get over it. The street name has changed. Get over it!! Time to move forward. “

Haringey council said the decision to rename the street as La Rose Lane followed a consultation following concerns raised by residents that Black Boy Lane, had racist connotations and was a “source of ongoing hurt for black people”.

It came in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by George Floyd’s death in 2020.

But some residents on the street are refusing to acknowledge the change and have even put up Black Boy Lane road signs on their homes in protest.

One neighbour told The Standard: “It’s been Black Boy Lane for hundreds of years. There are loads of black people down here that don’t agree with the change.

“I have lived here for fifty years- it is a lot of upheaval. I have to change all my direct debits, gas bills and so on.

“They spent £186,000 on it, that is crazy. I will never get used to saying La Rose Lane.”

According to campaign group Save our Statues, renaming the street has cost the council about £186,000. The council declined to comment on whether the figure was accurate. It will give £300 to each property on the street for inconvenience caused by the name change.

The new road signs will continue to read ‘Formerly Black Boy Lane’ below the new street title for a transitional period of one year.

Haringey council said the street appears to have been named Black Boy Lane in reference to a nearby Black Boy pub.

The name of the pub can be traced back to the late 17th century when Britain’s involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade was nearing its peak, and there were notable Tottenham residents with links to the slave trade.

Although the historical origin of the pub’s name is not clear, during the 20th century the pub’s sign depicted a racially caricatured image of a black person until it was replaced as a result of pressure from local residents in the 1980s.

Haringey resident John La Rose was an influential figure in the struggle for social justice and recognition for Black authors, artists and thinkers.

The radical poet helped form the New Cross Massacre Action Committee in response to the New Cross fire which resulted in the death of 14 young black people.

The movement mobilised 20,000 more black individuals and their supporters in March 1981 to protest the death of the young people and the failure of the police to conduct a proper investigation.

Renaldo La Rose, grandson of John La Rose, said:“John’s family are really proud that John’s life and work is to be recognised by having a road named after him. John’s work was of national and international significance but much of it started here in Haringey. We hope that through having his name memorialised in this way we will bring the message of his work – the urgent need for race equality and justice – to a new audience.”

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