David Oluwale: Anti-terrorism measures planned for the sculpture dedicated to the police victim

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A work of art remembering Mr Oluwale, who drowned in 1969 after being repeatedly beaten and racially assaulted by two officers, will be unveiled in Leeds’ new Aire Park in Hunslet next year.

The sculpture, which is created by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, is part of a drive to diversify the city’s public art offering.

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But Leeds City Council asked the artist to consider ‘anti-terrorism and anti-vandalism’ measures in his design, including graffiti resistant paint.

The unveiling of a blue plaque in Leeds, on Leeds Bridge in memory of British Nigerian David Oluwale. (Photo credit: James Hardisty)

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

The council, which will be responsible for the upkeep of the sculpture, said “specialist advice is being sought around the artwork“.

In a notice of decision posted online, the council said: ‘The security of artwork in this space is a major factor to consider, given the recent theft of the David Oluwale blue plaque from Leeds Bridge.

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“Following the removal of the blue plaque, Studio Shonibare and Planit-IE (the appointed design consultants) were asked to prioritize anti-vandalism and anti-terrorism measures in the design, while considering access and aesthetics.

“The studio has already committed to using a coat of anti-graffiti paint.”

The council said the Meadow Lane site, which is part of the new Aire Park along with the former Tetley Brewery site, “has measures in place to prevent damage from vehicles to the public or works of art as part of its anti-terrorism provision.”

He also said CCTV would be installed in the area.

Mr Oluwale, from Nigeria, drowned in the River Aire after fleeing two officers, who were both 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 man in Britain.

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