One of Croydon Council’s Neighbourhood Safety Officers, Dorian Bartley, has been suspended as a member of the Labour Party after re-posting anti-Semitic memes on social media.
Bartley’s job at Croydon Council sees him working alongside the police to – as his online profile put it – “deter and reduce crime”.
Bartley was suspended by the Gipsy Hill branch of the Labour Party last week after he was found to have shared an image on Facebook showing Adolf Hitler doing the Nazi salute with the words “we are the master race” above an image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and alongside the question: “What’s the difference?”
In 2017, the Labour Party’s Chakrabarti investigation into anti-Semitism condemned such comparisons, stating: “It is always incendiary to compare the actions of Jewish people or institutions anywhere in the world to those of Hitler or the Nazis or to the perpetration of the Holocaust”.
Bartley had been his party’s ward BAME officer, responsible for the rights and interests of ethnic minorities.
Bartley’s Facebook and Twitter accounts contained several other examples of re-postings and re-Tweets of offensive and highly questionable material around issues such as race, Russia and the record of Blairite Labour councillors in Lambeth. Bartley has subsequently closed down his social media accounts.
Following his suspension, a Labour spokeswoman said: “The Labour Party is committed to challenging and campaigning against anti-Semitism in all its forms.
“All complaints of anti-Semitism are taken extremely seriously. These are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
The day following his suspension from the party, Bartley issued an apology. He used social media.
He admitted that the meme which compared Netanyahu to Hitler was “offensive and wrong”.
“… I now realise it was wrong and naive of me to share some of the material I encountered,” Bartley wrote, adding that some Jewish members of the Labour Party had “offered me support in better understanding anti-Semitism” and that he was keen to be better educated in anti-Semitism, racism and the use of social media.
What has not been clarified is Bartley’s position at Croydon Council. Bartley’s postings were, of course, on his personal, not his official, professional, accounts. But it seems incongruous, at least, that someone who has admitted to lacking the awareness to recognise blatant racism should be considered qualified for the sensitive role of neighbourhood safety officer.
Croydon Council had not responded to our enquiry regarding its response to Bartley’s conduct by the time of publication.
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