UK to remove monuments of imperialists; protesters pull down Columbus statue in US

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has said that more statues of imperialist figures could be removed from Britain after protesters pulled down the monument to a slave trader. In US also, a statue of Columbus was pulled by protesters who were protesting the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests had spilled over to other parts of the world. Earlier, authorities removed a statue of Belgium’s former King Leopold II in Antwerp. Protesters clapped and shouted slogans when the statue was being removed using a crane. Protesters had splattered the statue with red paint.

Mayor Khan said he plans to set up a commission to ensure the British capital’s monuments reflected its diversity. It will review statues, murals, street art, street names and other memorials and consider which legacies should be celebrated, the mayor’s office said.

“It is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and city owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade and while this is reflected in our public realm, the contribution of many of our communities to life in our capital has been willfully ignored,” Khan said.

Meanwhile, officials in east London removed a statue of 18th-century merchant and slave owner Robert Milligan from its place. Joe Biggs, mayor of London’s Tower Hamlets borough, said that following the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston by demonstrators in the city of Bristol on Sunday, “we’ve acted quickly to both ensure public safety and respond to the concerns of our residents, which I share.”

There have been calls for removing a statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oxford University. Rhodes, an imperialist in southern Africa, made millions from mining and endowed Oxford University’s Rhodes scholarships. Oxford city officials urged the college to apply for permission to remove the statue so that it could be placed in a museum.

Another large statue of Rhodes that had stood since 1934 was removed from South Africa’s University of Cape Town in April 2015, after a student-led campaign that also urged the university to increase its numbers of black lecturers and to make the curriculum less Eurocentric.

In 2003, the Rhodes scholarships were renamed the Mandela Rhodes scholarships in South Africa, and a partnership was formed with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.