OneChiswick’s response to critics, trolls and bullies
If you follow social media—NextDoor, Twitter, ChiswickW4.com forums—you might have come across some very negative views about OneChiswick from our opponents. In recent days (this is written in early February 2021) the temperature has dramatically increased as things get into the legal sphere. It is a deliberate and orchestrated campaign.
OneChiswick is a group of people who care about Chiswick, who genuinely represent the views of the thousands of people in Chiswick across a very wide spectrum.
- We are PRO CYCLING in a safe environment which is fair to all and does not marginalise or make Chiswick more dangerous or daunting to other road users.
- We are PRO equality and are working to make sure those who have been negatively affected by the illegal road schemes are heard, particularly those with disabilities and mobility issues.
- We are PRO environment and support thoughtful well-planned schemes to help cut pollution and look forward to the day when the council engages residents in options which benefit ALL.
- We are PRO the shops and businesses of Chiswick who want to keep their businesses thriving so they can serve our needs and stop us having to go somewhere else to shop, and keep people employed.
The supporters of the current Streetspace Schemes are determined and desperate to make you believe otherwise. The picture they present is:
- That we are just an anti- cycling group.
It suits their agenda. But it is not true.
- That we simply want to use our cars as much as possible.
But more damagingly – in their parody website and a recent onslaught in social media, they are making personal attacks on any of those brave enough to stand up for Chiswick.
There have been many stories of intimidation – and it is difficult to know whether to respond or to ignore. Some people who support us prefer not to respond because they don’t want to draw more attention to themselves. Some are simply frightened and upset.
As one lie or misrepresentation is dealt with, another springs up in its place.
The Death Threat story
Since November 2020, there has been a concerted effort to link OneChiswick with an alleged death threat, without any justification. It is widely pushed on social media, forums, and other websites.
In November a man—who was NOT (and never has been) a member of the OneChiswick group—complained on NextDoor about the behaviour of the Councillors imposing the Streetspace programme but then went on to suggest “shooting them” and asked where to find their addresses. The man was spoken to by the police and no further action was taken. You can read about it here.
However, the event was exploited and twisted to imply a connection between this man and Marlene Johnson, who is a spokesperson for OneChiswick.
Marlene Johnson is a retiree in her early 70s. Before her retirement she had an outstanding career in children’s publishing and simultaneously served for almost 20 years as a magistrate. She also volunteers in a variety of roles for the homeless, cancer care and children with special needs among other public-spirited work.
She has helped those who need to be heard, many of them elderly and disabled, to explain how they could write to their local Councillors to express their concerns about the iniquities and dangers of the Streetspace programme. This was and is a proper and public-spirited exercise of her and their democratic rights and responsibilities. She has also written publicly to Councillors to ask that they listen to the voice of the people of Chiswick.
There was never any personal connection between him and OneChiswick nor with him and Marlene other than the fact that thousands of people use NextDoor. But one article in the Chiswick Calendar put the two together and implied a direct link which was then seized on by several people.
We believe this to be a deliberate and possibly calculated attempt to attack and intimidate the work of OneChiswick. Marlene was never contacted by the police because there was never any reason for them to do so. If there had a genuine basis for them to contact her, they would surely have done so.
Marlene has since then been subject to a campaign of vilification by several people in a concerted and deliberate plan to misrepresent the nature and character of OneChiswick and put people off getting involved. Those who attack her, don’t know her. They simply want to bully Marlene and damage OneChiswick.
Quotes from members of the private OneChiswick Facebook Group
The “parody website” has featured a whole set of aggressive and unpleasant quotes which purport to come from the OneChiswick Facebook group.
These quotes are misleading and not representative of the members of OneChiswick. Most contributors, while frustrated with current developments, do not express themselves like this. Our analytics show we average 10 posts a day with 100 comments – that’s 3000 comments a month. The creators of the parody site and their supporters chose the worst that they could find, shared them and then made themselves look deceitful and foolish in the extreme.
We believe that some of these quotes may have been doctored and others may well have been placed by those who have regularly boasted that they and their cycling mates around the country have infiltrated the group. Because of the speed that some comments from the OneChiswick private Facebook group make their way onto Twitter and elsewhere, it is possible that these trolls are responsible for starting inflammatory posts to raise the temperature of discussion (only yesterday we removed one such post); they then screenshot responses and share them without context to make the group look bad. On a number of occasions these people have been caught ‘doxing’ on-line comments too.
The Facebook group is moderated so unacceptable entries are removed or edited once spotted but some stay on there for a short time, but one has to ask – how is it that the trolls spot things before our moderators?
There is a determined objective by the opponents of OneChiswick to make us appear as an anticycling “hate group” which is far from the truth.
Those who want to change Chiswick fear that they are not winning the arguments with the local community. They are not convincing people that they are reasonable or the silent majority. They have stepped up their dirty tricks campaign and are trying to make OneChiswick look unreasonable.
They have resorted to constant and increasingly unjustified personal attacks on people in the OneChiswick group.
So why aren’t we taking more action against the lies and harassment?
OneChiswick chooses to focus on the main issues and arguments to build a positive future for Chiswick, to bring the community together and to oppose the dangers posed by the plans of the London Borough of Hounslow and Transport for London that seek to divide us.
We may well take firm action to defend the good names and reputations of those residents and members of OneChiswick against these continuing slurs and hold those responsible to account for their words and actions.
We are also pleased to say that over the last few days many more people are seeing through that behaviour and are supporting and donating to OneChiswick fund.
And we choose to take our inspiration from Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “If”
We want to focus on what is important.
The welfare and future of Chiswick
… if you have any questions or concerns please ask.