UK cities weigh removing statues of figures linked to slavery
London, Jun 9 (efe-epa).- Municipalities in England and Wales governed by the main opposition Labor Party will consider removing statues of historical figures involved in slavery and colonialism, the party said Tuesday.
The move follows an incident Sunday in the southwestern port city of Bristol, where Black Lives Matter protesters pulled down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and dumped it into the harbor.
The United Kingdom is among the many countries around the world that have seen demonstrations in solidarity with the mass mobilization in the United States sparked by the May 25 death of African American George Floyd at the hands of police.
Early Tuesday, capital Mayor Sadiq Khan announced the formation of a Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm “to review and improve the diversity of London’s public landmarks.”
“We must commemorate the achievements and diversity of all in our city – and that includes questioning which legacies are being celebrated,” he said hours before a statue of slave trader Robert Milligan was removed from its pedestal outside the Museum of London Docklands.
“Whilst it’s a sad truth that much of our city and nation’s wealth was derived from the slave trade – this does not have to be celebrated in our public spaces,” Khan said.
The charity that owns the land beneath the Milligan statue agreed to effect its “safe removal” in response to a petition.
The BLM protests have also given new impetus to a campaign launched years ago for the removal of a monument at Oxford University to colonialist Cecil Rhodes.
Tuesday saw around a thousand people come together outside Oxford’s Oriel College for a peaceful protest demanding that the image of Rhodes (1853-1902) be ousted.
Oxford remains unwilling to take down the statue, but said that it would make modifications to the monument with the aim of drawing “attention to this history” and doing “justice to the complexity of the debate.”
While the university stood to lose £100 million ($127 million) in donations if the statue were removed, Oxford said that money was not the basis for the decision.
Oriel College said Tuesday that it would “continue to debate and discuss the issues raised by the presence on our site of examples of contested heritage relating to Cecil Rhodes.” EFE jm/dr