Protesters gathered outside a school embroiled in a religious discrimination row after a Rastafarian pupil was told to cut his dreadlocks.
The peaceful and noisy protest was held outside Fulham Boys School (FBS) on Tuesday (October 31) with demonstrators carrying placards, banging drums and speaking through a Tannoy system.
It was organised after 12-year-old pupil Chikayzea Flanders was told his dreadlocks breached the Mund Street school’s strict uniform and appearance policy.
Chikayzea was taught in isolation as a result, before he moved to Hurlingham academy.
The protest began at 8am and was scheduled to end at 2pm, with demonstrators expected from as far as Manchester.
Placards read “stand-up racist school policies” and “shame on you Fulham Boys School".
But head teacher Alun Ebenezer , speaking exclusively to getwestlondon inside the Church of England school while demonstrations continued outside, denied charges of racism, saying the demographic of pupils showed otherwise.
The pupil’s mother Tuesday Flanders was at the protest, and said she was overwhelmed with the support she and her family have received.
She said: “Ever since getwestlondon broke the story the support I’ve received has been really good.
“There’s a lot of support here and its overwhelming. I get quite emotional talking about it.”
Among those there was Eve James. She said: “I’m here because I have heard about the young boy who was excluded from Fulham Boys School because of his dreadlocks.
“I believe that that’s discrimination. It’s a basic human right to express your religious belief.”
She said the school had created a uniform policy that denies young boys from wearing dreadlocks.
“It’s religious discrimination,” she continued. “It’s unacceptable in 2017.”
Fellow protester Vivian mills said: “I’m completely appalled that in so-called modern times the school would implement such a policy.
“Its leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s absolutely disgraceful.”
While some in the crowd accused the school of racism, the Green Party’s equality spokesperson Rashid Nix disagreed.
He said: “It’s not race discrimination, it’s religious discrimination.
“I would not accuse Mr Ebenezer of race discrimination, but religious discrimination? Definitely.”
Mr Ebenezer later invited getwestlondon into the school.
He said that he could not discuss Chikayzea’s case directly as it was going through the school’s in-house complaints procedure.
He said his priority on the day was to get pupils into the school safely so that their education could continue unaffected, and said this had been achieved.
Mr Ebenezer described FBS as a strict school with a strict uniform policy.
He said: “I focus on doing my job and what I think its best Fulham Boys School. We take boys from lots of different backgrounds and build on the Christian faith.
“Everyone is welcome at Fulham boys school. Seven per cent of students are Asian, 10% black African and 13% black Caribbean.
“We are an over-subscribed school, our intake shows the school is in no way racist and embraces different cultures.
“Fulham Boys School also has a culture and if you want to come here you have to buy into that.”
Mrs Flanders said her son was enjoying his time at his new school.
Among the groups which helped organise the protest were Black Child Agenda and Working Action Group.
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