Posted on February 15, 2023

Viking Statue Linked to ‘Far-Right and Slavery’, Police Warn Council

Craig Simpson, The Telegraph, February 11, 2023

Vikings could be connected to the far-Right, according to a police-backed audit of monuments linked to “oppressive behaviour”.

Northumbria Police took part in a review of statues and landmarks to establish which sites might be associated with slavery and other forms of oppression, according to documents seen by The Telegraph.

The audit determined that several sites related to the Vikings could have “associations with far-Right symbolism”, the internal documents state.

The sites in question include a modern sculpture of two Viking warriors and a shopping centre in Jarrow, South Tyneside, where the local council launched the review of statues in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

An internal note to South Tyneside Council’s leadership informed them of the results of this work, stating: “Council officers (working with Northumbria Police) have undertaken a review of South Tyneside’s statues and landmarks to determine if any have links to slavery or oppressive behaviour.”

Northumbria Police ranked sites on a colour-coded basis, according to internal documents, with location linked to the Vikings being given an “amber” rating, the worst level of rating issued in the review. Most sites received “green”.

A note on the “Viking Statue” and the “Viking Precinct” shopping centre in Jarrow told council leadership that this could have “connections / associations with far-Right symbolism and Nordic mythology”.

The statue depicting two unrealistic warriors with helmets and shields was erected in the early 1960s, possibly in reference to Viking raids on the north-east in the early Middle Ages, and the nearby shopping precinct was also named “Viking” as a nod to these events.

These sites were given an “amber” rating along with a statue of Queen Victoria, for “links to Empire/Colonialism”, and two sites – the Old Town Hall and Customs House in nearby South Shields – that were linked to race riots which took place in the 1930s.

The involvement of Northumbria Police has raised questions about the use of police time on “ideological” tasks, although the assessment of the Vikings may have been for the safety of the statues themselves. The force itself has not commented on the review.

David Spencer, a former Metropolitan Police officer who now researches crimes and policing for the think tank Policy Exchange, said that the statue review “appears to be a bizarre use of police resources”.

He added: “When they pay their council tax, this surely cannot be what local residents expect police officers to be doing.”

Former officer Harry Miller, the founder of the Fair Cop group concerned with police “overreach” into political matters, told The Telegraph: “We are in grave danger of our police becoming politically motivated zealots more akin to the Stasi and the Inquisition than the traditional Dixon of Dock Green figure. Nothing good can come of ideological policing.”

The note delivered to the leadership of South Tyneside includes comments on what damage had been inflicted on the amber-rated landmarks, advising that as “there have been no incidents of vandalism” it was not necessary to “undertake any action at present”.

South Tyneside council, which also reviewed local blue plaques and street names, ultimately did not take any action to remove statues or make any alterations to the public spaces. It has not commented, but previously stated: “As a result of the review, we are not planning to take any further action at this time.”

Norse mythology and images of Aryan warriors were co-opted by the Nazis, and the stylised initials of the SS used the Nordic rune “sowilo”, which has the appearance of a lightning bolt.

The Anti-Defamation League in the US has claimed in online guidance that “white supremacists have … appropriated the runic alphabet”.