Social Issues

Anti-racist protests stir debates across Europe

Madrid Desk, Jun 9 (efe-epa).- Black Lives Matter and anti-racist protests taking place across Europe have pressured authorities into taking action, whether that be addressing public landmarks honoring colonial leaders and slavers or making changes in police protocol amid claims of brutality against people of minority ethnic backgrounds.


Authorities in the Belgian city of Antwerp on Tuesday removed a statue of King Leopold II that had been daubed in paint during an anti-racist protest. It will now be moved to a museum.

Officials have come under increased pressure to review a number of statues erected in memory of King Leopold II, whose legacy has become synonymous with atrocities carried out during his absolute rule of the Congo Free State.

According to historian Adam Hochschild, Leopold II’s use of forced labor, slavery and harsh capital punishment in the Congo region, a period that came to be known as the Rubber Terror, caused the death of at least 10 million Congolese.

During the BLM protests in Brussels, a number of Leopold II statues were doused in fake blood.

There were also episodes of unrest and looting during the protests on Sunday when groups of people broke off from the main march. Brussels Mayor Philippe Close has said the city would help compensate for the losses incurred by businesses affected.

Brussels police have also launched an investigation into a group of officers accused of brutality against a 19-year-old who said in a video — that went viral — that he was beaten and racially abused by five officers in the back of a van, according to local press.


London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Tuesday said statues of slavers in London should be taken down amid a growing national debate in the United Kingdom as the country’s colonial legacy finds itself in the spotlight of anti-racist protests.

Khan told BBC Radio 4 that he would set up a commission to review some of the landmarks around the capital.

The remarks from the Labour Party mayor came shortly after Conservative Party Prime Minister Boris Jonhson condemned the actions of Black Lives Matter protesters in the city of Bristol who toppled a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston.

With police deciding not to intervene for fear of escalating the situation, protesters dragged the statue through the street and dumped it in a nearby canal.

Johnson described it as a “criminal act.”

“The PM absolutely understands the strength of feeling, but in this country we settle our differences democratically and if people wanted the removal of the statue there are democratic routes which can be followed,” a spokesperson said.

In London, BLM activists also daubed a statue of former prime minister Winston Churchill with the words “was a racist.” The message has since been removed.

A symbol of with British war efforts against the Nazi regime in World War II, the defacing of the Churchill statue in Parliament Sqaure sparked immediate debate online and in the press, with some activists highlighting the former leader’s history of xenophobic comments.


Amid increased scrutiny due to the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the globe, French authorities have moved to ban the controversial use of chokehold by police as a form of detention.

There are renewed calls for protests this weekend calling for justice for Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who died in police custody in 2016.

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