Residents ask Mayor Biggs for support in campaign against “graphic” Jack the Ripper museum

Jack the Ripper Museum in Whitechapel. Pic: Mike Prior

Residents of Whitechapel have written to John Biggs, Tower Hamlets Mayor about their ongoing campaign against the “graphic” Jack the Ripper Museum which contains grotesque images of his female victims.

Earlier this month, 20 local women, who are members of a group of feminist activists called Fourth Wave, wrote to Mayor Biggs to ask what the council is doing to address the problems with the museum. Fourth Wave argues that the museum glorifies violence by displaying graphic images of Jack the Ripper’s female victims.

When the museum opened two years ago, it caused large protests and drew national attention. While much of that activity has died down, Fourth Wave has continued smaller-scale demonstrations outside the building—and they don’t plan to stop: “Until the matter is resolved, we will continue our protests.”

Fourth Wave’s letter reads: “The fact that this place allows children in to view photographs of the mutilated bodies of working class women is very worrying. What does that say to male children about violence against women?”

In response, Biggs told the group that he shares their view of the museum and that the council has investigated multiple possibilities for revoking the museum’s planning permission, but that none are currently tenable.

“Sadly, the museum itself will remain and there is little the council can do about this,” he wrote.

The subject of the displays chronicling the crimes of Jack the Ripper, who murdered at least five working-class women in East London in 1888, is distressing to feminist groups like Fourth Wave because the museum was originally meant to tell stories of women living in London’s east end throughout history.

Biggs says that the council was similarly misled as to the nature of the museum when granting it planning permission in October 2014. Though he also concedes that the council cannot assess planning applications based on the content of a museum and that there is very little recourse to censor the content of a museum once it has opened.

“We [the council] have argued intensely on this matter and I have attended demonstrations at the site but, sadly, the powers available to us are very limited,” he told Eastlondonlines.

The Jack the Ripper museum did not respond to request for comment by time of publication.

twitter: @katherineeriley

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