Anti-terror measures planned for David Oluwale sculpture in Leeds

David Oluwale/plaque composite
A plaque installed in memory of David Oluwale was stolen in April.

A new sculpture dedicated to a victim of police racism will be protected by anti-terrorism and security measures – after a plaque installed in his memory was allegedly stolen.

The artwork will remember Nigerian immigrant David Oluwale, who drowned in 1969 after being repeatedly beaten and racially abused by two officers in Leeds.

It will be unveiled next year in Leeds's new Aire Park, in Hunslet.

Leeds City Council has asked British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, who is behind the sculpture, to consider "anti-terrorism and anti-vandalism" measures within its design, including graffiti-resistant paint, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

It follows the alleged theft of a plaque dedicated to Mr Oluwale's memory on Leeds Bridge in April, for which two men have since been arrested.

The council, which will be responsible for the sculpture's maintenance, said "specialist advice is being sought around the artwork".

The plaque was removed within hours of its unveiling. Credit: Leeds Civic Trust

In a decision notice published online, the council said: "Security of the artwork within this space is a major factor to consider, given the recent theft of the David Oluwale blue plaque from Leeds Bridge.

"Following the removal of the blue plaque, both the Shonibare studio and Planit-IE (the appointed design consultants) have been asked to prioritise anti-vandalism and anti-terrorist measures within the design, whilst considering access and aesthetics.

"The studio has already committed to using a layer of anti-graffiti paint."

The council said that the Meadow Lane site, which forms part of the new Aire Park along with the old Tetley brewery site, "has in place measures to prevent vehicular damage to the public or to the artwork as part of its anti-terrorism provision".

It also said that CCTV would be installed in the area.

Mr Oluwale, who was originally from Nigeria, drowned in the River Aire after running away from two officers, both of whom were cleared of manslaughter but jailed for assault after a subsequent trial.

The case marked the first conviction for police involvement in the death of a black person in Britain.

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