Message from the editor: 

Over the last week, The Basingstoke Gazette has published a number of stories relating to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Regretfully, some readers have shown intolerance towards racial equality through the comments section both our Facebook page and on our website. 

One of the reoccurring themes seems to be that racism is political. Racism is not a political matter. Equality is a basic, fundamental human right. 

To be clear, racism and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated on any of the Gazette's platforms. Users posting offensive comments will be blocked and removed from our sites. 

As editor, I am not prepared to stand by and watch people with outdated views try and maintain the status quo by silencing black voices and derailing the conversation. 

To those who attempt to transform legal protests into a story of vandalism and thuggery, I would draw your attention to the fact that antisocial behaviour is a byproduct of almost all large gatherings, from football matches, festivals to Friday nights out on the town.  

There will sadly always be a small minority in this country who will seek to cause disorder and anarchy but frankly, that should have no bearing on the underlying message or cause of the protest. 

Changes needs to happen and change requires leadership. I am prepared to provide that leadership from the standpoint of being the local newspaper editor. I realise I am one part of a massive puzzle but if I can even create the smallest positive change towards a more equal society then I will consider this to be a success. 

Katie French