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St George's Day organiser says social media racists 'will not deter' celebrations in Dartford and Gravesend

The organiser of two Saint George’s Day celebrations has said he is "so disappointed" after suffering racial abuse online.

Gurvinder Sandher, the artistic director of Cohesion Plus which organises the events in Gravesend and Dartford, had to immediately delete and block internet trolls after promoting the festivities.

Gurvinder Sandher, from Cohesion Plus, talks about the racist abuse received ahead of Saint George's Day events

He said: "We've had some posts on our social media yesterday where I had to immediately delete and block them.

"It's just so frustrating that we still have this minority hiding behind their social media accounts and putting these posts up. And even though we can block and delete those comments, it's just so disappointing."

Despite the online hate, the organiser described the two events as the perfect opportunity to reclaim St George's flag from the racist minority.

He said: "When I was growing up, the St George's flag was kind of seen as owned by the far right and that is really what motivated me to organise these events, to sort of reclaim the flag for the majority.

"The people attending our celebrations are on our side. It's not about the colour of my skin, or where my parents were born. It's about celebrating the diversity of England in 2022, and I'm proud of what we've achieved.

He added: "The abuse we get online, particularly from far right groups, will not stop us or deter us from doing what we do being it in Gravesham, Dartford or anywhere in Kent.

"As I passionately say over and over again: there's more than unites us than divides. And I'm so proud of what we at Cohesion Plus are able to achieve."

Gurvinder Sandher joined by a Saint George's knight during celebrations in 2018
Gurvinder Sandher joined by a Saint George's knight during celebrations in 2018

The celebrations taking place tomorrow (Friday) will be the first in-person parades since April 2019 due the pandemic.

They will feature drummers, school children and a large dragon. There will also be a programme of entertainment including traditional and contemporary brass bands, fusion dhol drummers, folk musicians, and Saint George himself.

Gurvinder and his team often receive online abuse at this time of the year – being asked why they are producing the event in the first place.

Cohesion Plus organises several culturally diverse arts events across Kent incorporating music, dance and visual arts and promoting equality and positive community relations.

The Gravesend-based organisation has been involved with Medway Light Nights and Christmas lantern parades in Gravesend and Dartford. This year's calendar includes a Platinum Jubilee Street Party and Eid celebrations in Gravesend, Maidstone Fusion Street Festival, Tunbridge Wells Mela Festival, Gravesham Pride, Maidstone Community Mela and Wrotham Festival of Light.

Find out more about Cohesion Plus and tomorrow's parades here.

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