LONDON, ENGLAND.-The Metropolitan Police last night attempted to censor an art exhibition marking the anniversary of the 1985 Brixton and Tottenham riots.Two plainclothes officers, who identified themselves as police sergeants Turner and Murray entered the Bettie Morton Gallery on Brixton's Atlantic Road at 5.30pm. The gallery owner, Mrs Bettie Morton, and a volunteer, Mr Rab Macgibbon were preparing for last night's opening of the exhibition 'Fall\Uprising', a series of paintings by London-based artist Mr Kimathi Donkor.The officers claimed to be acting on a complaint from a member of the public and requested that the painting 'Helping With Enquiries 1984', which shows a naked man being beaten by two police officers, be removed.According to Bettie Morton, the gallery owner, "The officers said that the nudity in the painting had caused offence to a member of the public. However, during the discussion they said they thought the artist clearly had an agenda about the police. Of course, we absolutely reject any such charge and have refused to remove paintings. This is a 20th anniversary exhibition marking events of national importance by an artist well known for his commitment to history painting*.
"Although the police claimed that they were only responding to a complaint, it appears that underlying this encounter there is a more fundamental issue about human rights and freedom of _expression. Kimathi Donkor, the artist at the centre of the row commented, "I just hope that the police haven't noticed the latest addition to Trafalgar Square, Marc Quinn's gigantic sculpture of a completely naked woman, Alison Lapper. This kind of heavy-handed approach towards the black community is exactly what my work is addressing, so I am amazed that the Met are prepared to engage in such a clear act of self parody."Sergeants Turner and Murray said that they expected to make a return visit to the gallery. If the police pursue the matter both the artist and gallery will be seeking legal advice.