Earlier this week I took part in a ceremony to re-open Altab Ali Park following its recent restoration work.
Altab Ali was a young Bangladeshi man who was murdered in a racist attack 34 years ago on May 4th 1978. His death sent shock waves throughout the community. The National Front were on the rise. Racist attacks were on the increase. And there was real fear that after Altab Ali’s murder no-one was safe.
But while Altab Ali’s murder created a fear of racism, it also created resistance to racism. Over 7,000 people marched behind his coffin to Downing Street. The Bangladeshi community and anti-racists started to organise against racist violence. And from that day to this, Tower Hamlets has taken huge strides to ensure it is a borough where there is no place for hate.
The park has been refurbished as part of High Street 2012, an ambitious programme to enhance and improve the thoroughfare which connects the City at Aldgate to the Olympic Park at Stratford.
Improvements to the park have included new trees being planted, a raised walkway, an improved setting for the Shaheed Minar monument, new lighting, and groves of silver birch and pine trees.
The improvements to the park followed widespread consultation with the community. Events included an archaeological dig organised by the Museum of Londonwhich involved school children and volunteers who helped inform the final design.
A host of partner agencies were involved in the restoration including the council, Transport for London, Design for London and London Heritage.
During my visit I was also honoured to bury a time capsule in the park, documenting the area’s fascinating and rich history.