Day of reckoning as UK removes public statues of historic figures associated with racism, slave trade
London, June 12, 2020 (AltAfrica)-More public statues of historic figures in UK who have been associated with racism and slave trade are being removed across the country as protesters question their relevance in modern day society
Already, government has boarded up Winston Churchill‘s and other public statues in central London to protect it from damage ahead of another weekend of protests.
A protective barrier was placed around the monument at Parliament Square and the nearby Cenotaph on Thursday night amid concerns that the public statues could again be targeted by demonstrators.
Lauded for his leadership as Britain’s wartime prime minister and opposition to Hitler’s Nazi regime, he also espoused racist views of Indians, who he said he “hated” and considered to be “a beastly people with a beastly religion”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has ordered a review of all London’s statues and street names, saying those linked to slavery should be removed.
A statue of Robert Milligan, a slave trader who owned two sugar plantations and 526 slaves in Jamaica, was removed from the Museum of London Docklands on June 9, and a statue of Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell is also set to be removed from Poole Quay in Dorset
A new website calling itself “Topple the Racists” is appealing for people to add statutes of across the country of controversial figures who supported or profited from racial violence and segregation. It is a crowd-sourced map and says it is a project from the Stop Trump Coalition.
So far 15 statues have been added by activists. They are:
- William Beckford
- Robert Geffrye
- Robert Clive
- Earl Mountbatten
- Captain James Cook
- Jan Smuts
- Lord Lawrence
- Admiral Nelson
- Viscount Wolseley
- Charles James Napier
- William Gladstone
- Sir Francis Drake
- Robert Blake
Workers are also expected to board up the George Washington statue in Trafalgar Square after protesters pushed a monument of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour on Sunday.
The protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white US police officer ignited a discussion about the UK’s imperial past historical figures often associated with slavery and racism.
Two statues of people involved in the history of Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals are to be removed due to their links with the slave trade.
The Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust announced on Thursday that the figures depicting Robert Clayton and Thomas Guy will be taken out of public view.
Clayton, a former Lord Mayor of London, had ties to the Royal African Company, which transported slaves to the Americas. Guy invested in the South Sea Company, which was also involved in the trade.
Also on Thursday evening, video showed workers in hard hats scaling Colston Tower in Bristol city centre to remove the controversial figure’s name from atop the high-rise building.
The 15-storey tower block, in Colston Street, accommodates a number of offices.
Hours earlier, Colston’s statue was fished out of Bristol harbour after being pulled down and dumped into the water during an anti-racism demonstration on Sunday.