It’s a pity not everyone can access the memorial to a struggle for equality

The stone mound to the Peterloo massacre invites people to step up to say their piece, but overlooks wheelchair users

Peterloo protest

In Manchester, a case of good intentions gone awry. A memorial was built to the Peterloo massacre of 1819, in which protesters for parliamentary reform were killed by a cavalry charge. It is by the exceptional artist Jeremy Deller and the exceptional architects Caruso St John, respectively winners of the Turner and Stirling prizes, and went through extensive consultations before it was built. It is beautifully crafted out of multicoloured stone from all regions of the UK and is inscribed with the names of victims and the towns and villages from which protesters came.

It takes the form of a circular stepped mound on to which, like protesters wanting to make a declaration, you can climb. Its only problem is that wheelchairs can’t go up steps, and disabled campaigners have argued that it is not a great statement about what Deller called “the egalitarian spirit of Peterloo”, to present the mound as a desirable destination while denying it to a significant section of the population. Manchester city council has now said there is “no viable solution” to make the memorial accessible and that it will try to do better with future memorials. Some might argue that it will be impossible for artists to do anything, if they have to take all such considerations into account. But, if these thoughtful and skilful people had done so from the start, they might have created a truly powerful work.

An incomplete truth

Much praise has been heaped on the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her article attacking the “sanctimony” and lack of compassion she perceives in social media, in particular from another writer whom she does not name but can be easily identified. Adichie twice writes that this other writer, hostile to her statements on transgender issues, “has asked followers to pick up machetes and attack me”. That sounds bad, except that the tweet from January actually says: “I trust that there are other people who will pick up machetes to protect us from the harm transphobes like Adichie & [JK] Rowling seek to perpetuate. I, however, will be in my garden with butterflies, trying to figure out how to befriend the neighbourhood crows. Find me on the gram [butterfly emoji].” Is this really inciting bloodshed? Does it not contain a note of irony? “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it, as Jonathan Swift wrote,” said Adichie. Well yes, but would Truth not have been served by citing the whole tweet?

Architect misfires

In my first job in architecture I worked in an office where a Niagara-like roar would make one all too aware that one of the partners was using the poorly installed toilet on the floor above. He seemed never to have learned the etiquette of aiming to the side. But I now find that this man, called Peter Kellow, has worse foibles. He has been expelled from the Royal Institute of British Architects for writing on Facebook that “there is no such thing as the Jewish race. This is one of the many stunts that Judaists have pulled on non-Judaists who have swallowed it whole”, and that “the liberal elite who rule us like cults as cults aid one of their central objectives – undermining the nation. So Freemasons, Judaists and Sunni Muslims become there [sic] natural bedfellows.” He was previously expelled from the Architects Registration Board , the body that regulates the profession. “The fact that both [the] ARB and Riba,” said Kellow, “went to the trouble of expelling me demonstrates clearly that my criticisms were right on target.” This talk of targets was, for me, triggering.

• Rowan Moore is the Observer’s architecture critic

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Rowan Moore

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