A South Cheam man has spoken of his shock after receiving an anonymous letter from a neighbour, saying a Black Lives Matter sign in his window “didn’t reflect well on the area".

AJ Shehata, 24, attended the Black Lives Matter protests in central London last year in June, which came in response to the murder of a Black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in the US.

He told Sutton Guardian: “My family’s of Sudanese descent, so it was a cause close to our hearts and we put up BLM signs in our windows following the protest - we really wanted to keep the message alive.

“Since last year we’ve eventually taken pretty much all of them down over time – but we did choose to leave one up as I think it’s really important to just keep the message going, it’s only a small sign that’s left though.”

But despite the sign only taking up barely a quarter of one of the house’s front windows, it was enough to prompt an anonymous letter of complaint from a neighbour – something which AJ decided to post on social media.

AJ with his family

AJ with his family

“I was shocked when I read the whole thing,” he continued.

“Though I actually laughed initially and was just thinking to myself ‘no way, surely not’.

“But as I kept reading it, I found myself getting more upset, there’s stuff in there about Blacks killing Blacks – the most racist stuff to be honest.

“It was even more crazy that it starts off by saying, ‘I’m on your side’ – the whole letter feels like someone saying, ‘I’m not racist, but…’

“I would actually love to have an open discussion with this person or people who feel similarly, to hear their views and to explain what the movement is really about. To sign it off anonymously though, I feel is just cowardly.”

AJ said he has lived in the area since he was young, and that he and his sisters grew up living there.

He said he had not directly experienced racism in the predominantly white local community previously, though there had been times when he’d received strange looks from people and admitted he may have been “naive” to assume it wasn’t because of his race.

The letter in full

The letter in full

He added: “I feel there really is a long way to go with the BLM movement – we had something great going, people were getting more engaged with the issue, schools and councils were working together to promote the message and to help educate young people.

“It does feel like it had fizzled out and lost momentum recently though, it’s much more rare to see people tweeting in support of it now, for example. I really feel we should keep the momentum going.

“It’s all about educating people. We are all humans, putting people down because of the colour of their skin is just archaic.

“It has been great to receive so much support on social media though, I think my post has more than 20,000 'likes' at the moment, it really makes a difference knowing people are that engaged and it’s made us feel less isolated hearing about other people’s experiences.”