8:00am Thursday 16th April 2009
By Elizabeth Pears
FURIOUS festival-goers have set up a petition and plan to demonstrate over the Mayor of London's decision to scrap a free music celebration held in Finsbury Park.
The Rise Festival, which carried an anti-racism message, was set up in 1996 in the wake of Stephen Lawrence's murder.
It has attracted crowds of up to 100,000 as well as big-name peformers like Jimmy Cliff, Run DMC, The Wailers and The Specials.
But last week Boris Johnson announced the festival would not go ahead because of a lack of sponsorship.
The music celebration costs £551,000 which was not prudent spending in a recession, Mr Johnson said.
Now furious residents and supporters of the festival have started a campaign and set up a petition demanding the festival's return.
The online petition, listed on the Go Petition website, states: "We, the undersigned, firmly believe Rise Festival should not have been cancelled and call for Boris Johnson to revive Rise for 2009, and beyond, with its anti-racism message intact."
Campaigner Freya Van Lessen said: "The cancellation of Rise Festival is a travesty.
"It has put an end to an important multicultural event, which celebrated the contributions of different communities to the capital and promoted excellent community relations."
Mr Johnson said some of the savings would now be used for a London-wide event on July 10 and 11 called Rhythm of London, focusing on music education for young people.
Rise won the support from former London Mayor Ken Livingstone in 2001.
Mr Livingstone said the mayor's decision was "a blow" to multiculturalism.
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