Statues In The US and Around The World Are Being Beheaded And Torn Down

| Resist!

Above photo: The statue of Colston is pushed into the river Avon. 

“Monuments and statues in the US and around the world that are dedicated to controversial historical figures with legacies of slavery and racism have become the target of demonstrations during the #BlackLivesMatter protests. In several cases, the statues have even been toppled by activists taking matters into their owns hands.

“At a demonstration in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday night, a 93-year-old statue of Christopher Columbus was brought down, set on fire, and thrown into a lake as bystanders chanted ‘Tear it down.’ Left in place where the statue had previously stood was a cardboard sign with the words ‘Columbus Represents Genocide.’

“In Boston, police have launched an investigation and are appealing for information after another Columbus statue was beheaded early on Wednesday morning. The same statue was beheaded back in 2006. In 2015, it was also covered with red paint and spray painted with the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’

“In Montgomery, Alabama, a statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was toppled outside a high school last week. Now, local officials are considering whether to rename schools in the county named for Confederate heroes.

“It’s not just the US that is seeing a reckoning for such monuments. In Belgium, a statue of colonial King Leopold II was removed from the city of Antwerp after being defaced by anti-racist protesters. During the leader’s reign over the Congo, an estimated 10–15 million people died.

“In Barbados, activists have coordinated a petition to have a statue of Adm. Horatio Nelson removed from its capital, calling its presence ‘an affront’ to the Black population. And in the UK, a monument in honor of Edward Colston, a famed slave trader, was forcibly removed by protesters before being thrown into Bristol Harbour. The demonstration followed years of campaigning to have his statue taken down.

“Colston’s company transported more than 100,000 enslaved men, women, and children from West Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas between 1672 and 1689. At least 20,000 died during the crossings due to conditions on the boats — their bodies thrown overboard…

“In London, a statue of Robert Milligan, a prominent British slave trader who owned two sugar plantations and enslaved more than 500 people in Jamaica, was removed by city officials on Tuesday. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is now calling for a review of similar monuments across the capital. ‘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.

“Activists behind the UK’s Stop Trump Coalition have created an interactive map allowing website visitors to identify and add monuments around the country with connections to slavery and racism…” (Statues in the U.S. and Around the World Are Being Beheaded and Torn Down Amid Black Lives Matter Protests, BuzzFeed).

  • Richard

    Who sits around gazing at statues for hours on end anyway, tear them all down and expand the area where the statue stood as much as possible and plant some grass & flowers, maybe some trees and places to have a picnic. You know, a beautiful place for all to enjoy & escape the stress of life in the big city, any city or place for that matter.

  • GypsyFreyja

    Well said and I second that motion.

  • mwildfire

    I can see some merit in having statues–or murals–of heroes. The trouble is, virtually all of the actual statues are of anti-heroes, military leaders and slavers and whoever was the worst governor. We should have a statue of Harriet Tubman, of Tom Paine, of MLK and Malcolm X, of Mother Jones…

  • Nylene13

    I would love to see a statue of Joe Hill in Utah.

    Jessie James in Missouri. (Few people today realize that Jessie only robbed banks and trains from the train company that stole land from the people-including Jessie’s family land)

    How about some Native American Indian statues?

  • daedalus43

    I once lived near the birthplace of Tecumseh. For a year, I drove by it every day to my work in Yellow Springs. If you didn’t know where to look, you would never know it was there. At the time the site was simply a raised area in an agricultural field where the chilagala (chillocothe) once stood. Not only is there no statue, the land was under private control.

    I presume you know about Tecumseh. He was the Native American ‘Thomas Paine’. He realized that the Westward expansion of White Europeans could only be stopped by the formation of a Native America nation, and he traveled far and wide trying to form such a coalition. Sadly, he started too late and tribal identity was still a powerful force.

  • iowapinko

    Hold on a minute, Richard, there are quite a few of us struggling artists, who devote our lives to creating more humane and vibrant communities.

    The PROBLEM is that too much art is commissioned by the ruling class of corporate greedsters whose propensity is to promote adulation of their own systems of privilege. Hence the proliferation of monument to war and authority. The contemporary trend is to promote art that has little social value or meaning.

    Socially grounded art that reflects the experience and history of the people is a valuable community resource. We should not be limited to a choice between green space or art; we can have both, especially if we eliminate the REAL waste, corporate welfare and corruption and military excess.

  • Nylene13

    I don’t think it would have mattered. The Indians were so outnumbered by the mass of invading white people. The Europeans did not really even have to fight the Indians-they could just hand out blankets infected with smallpox.

    Same thing happened to the Hawaiians. And everywhere, really.

    This morning I was thinking about my cast iron pots. I have a large collection, use them all the time. Lodge makes great quality ones, still made in America. Beautiful, Affordable. Look great hanging on the kitchen wall. I highly recommend.

    When the Indians first saw the cast iron pots, that changed everything.

    They could cook food in them, boil water, they lasted forever, all the Indians wanted one.

    That was a good thing. Still is. But so little of Industrialism is.

    We need to learn to control our civilization. Capitalism and it’s Industrialization are like a Cancer to us.

    We the people are starting to realize this, finally.

    I just hope it is not too late.

  • Nylene13

    Kind of what I was trying to say in my post about cast iron pots, above.

    Please read.

  • mwildfire

    I was thinking of Tecumseh actually but couldn’t remember his name.

  • daedalus43

    Apparently, according to the scant archeological record, the Vikings tried to invade North America, but when they killed a few ‘natives’, the inhabitants rose up and beat their asses back to Greenland (according to Jared Diamond, ‘Collapse’). Sadly, the native people didn’t do the same to the Dutch in NY, the ‘Roundheads’ in Mass or the Spanish in Fla. Tecumseh was needed at that early time, but came along a century or two too late. He was still great and needs to be remembered for the truth he told: without union we are weak and unable to overcome the ruling class.

    The failure to learn this lesson from Paine and Tecumseh will probably lead to the failure of the current unrest to lead to any significant change. Already, it’s assumed that this is a ‘Black’ issue. Palestinians understand a larger ‘race’ issue, but do Americans? And, of course, the Police were invented to keep the powerful in power, no matter the race of the upstart.

    But the overriding problem involves not simply ‘race’, or ‘Europe’, or ‘sex’. Instead, it involves the balance of power within human society. Those with far to much power will use race, ethnicity, and sex as ways to keep us from forming the union necessary to throw off the yoke of our oppressors. We must go back to our imperfect roots and once again strive for a ‘more perfect union’, one that delivers the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’.

    Concerning ‘Lodge’: I recently discovered that the only way to make spectacular sourdough bread in a standard home appliance is to use a Lodge 5 qt. dutch oven. With the onset of ‘Corona’, I found bread rare in the grocery store, and yeast gone completely. So, what’s a guy to do? Within a week, I had a sourdough starter and, using some old bread flour, began baking bread, again. The taste (thanks to my rosemary bush) and texture were there from the beginning. However, the nice brown, crusty ‘artisan’ loaf exterior was elusive until the Lodge purchase. Now, every third or fourth day a loaf worthy of an art gallery pops out of my home oven. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a loaf of bread from a store, again.

  • Nylene13

    I think the Vikings would have got on fine with the Native American Indians. Just a feeling.

    How great you are a Lodge Lover!

    And Sourdough Bread-good for you!

    I have made bread Forever, but I have never been successful at sourdough. I need to learn. I have recently been researching recipes for starter and sourdough bread.

    I am impressed you were able to learn on your own.

    I guess I should try some YouTube Videos….

  • Richard

    Guess we can all dream, good thing to because that is about all we have left these days. The only way to eliminate the 3 things you mention is to eliminate the source of those problems and many many more besides them. Sadly, I don’t see it happening any time soon, far to damn many people who don’t give a s*hi*, pay attention to whats going on, or exercise their rights to change anything. Much easier to blame someone else for their problems, support racism, division, and their useless “party of choice” who only have the peoples demise & how much money they can steal in mind. Greed, hate, division, and stupidity rule this country today.
    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”Describes this country to a t, not enough good men, women, & even children to make a difference anymore. Even if there were the rulers are already 10 steps ahead, they may be greedy, but they are not stupid, they know whats coming when the masses finally wake from their stupor.

  • GypsyFreyja

    Valid points, iowa. I was thinking more along the lines of the statues mentioned in the article. Though the article didn’t mention this one, the statue of Frank Rizzo, late mayor of Philadelphia, was removed (went into hiding I suspect) after it was defaced. I lived in Philly for 2 years during the time when Rizzo was mayor and running for reelection. I remember the “Vote White” comment and the bombing of the homes of MOVE members and their families. He was a brutal man. The police loved him. He had their backs, no matter what atrocities they committed.

    Statues of individuals, such as Rizzo, known for their brutality, or other misdeeds, can give the impression of that deeds legitimacy and that they (the individuals) should be held in high esteem. To me, these statues are not art. They remind me of grandiose tombstones or mausoleums. A monument to oneself so to speak. I am not sorry to see them go. Grass, flowers and trees, as Richard said, would be a welcomed natural art as their replacements. Would you agree?

    I was “chasing work” and landed in Pueblo, CO in March for a few weeks. I wanted to get out of my hotel room to get some fresh air on one particularly beautiful day. With great pleasure, I ambled along the Pueblo Riverwalk and admired the sculptures and art work as well as the natural beauty on display. One sculpture that particularly amazed me was of a Native woman titled “Walks Among the Stars” by Dave McGary. I thought her so magnificent that I took several pictures from several angles, none doing her justice of course. Her garments have a detailed appearance of flow to them and her face such a look of confidence and peacefulness that one could imagine her dance. She, in my humble opinion, is art. I think the world would quite lacking without art for arts sake, in all its forms. And I do love me some Dali 😉

  • iowapinko

    Thanks so much for sharing this story, Gypsy. You are such a good storyteller, it’s as though your readers are in the sculpture park with you.

    And, as you describe, a lot of public art is a monument to “oneself”, i. e., the people who commission it, i.e., the ruling class elite. I look forward to the day when public art is commissioned by and for the regular working people so that we can all experience more “Walks Among the Stars”. And more green space as well. Take care, Gypsy.

  • sabelmouse

    good points.

  • iowapinko

    Richard, I have a story, especially for you.

    I was sitting in my living room watching the massive protests filling our streets and becoming filled with inspiration and hope that we are FINALLY experiencing a movement for social justice in our country. Lots of boisterous chanting, “Black lives matter”, George Floyd, Say his name!@!”, “De-fund the police!”

    The chants began to sound different; I realized that the shouts were filtering in through my open screen windows. And it wasn’t just a few voices floating in with the breeze. It was a POWERFUL sound of people with an AGENDA.

    They were rallying in protest in front of our county courthouse, which is just a coupla blocks from my home. I checked the newspaper the following day, and it reported that there was a crowd of over 1000 people that had been organized by our local Black Lives Matter group within just a few hours.

    All across our nation, good people are coming together to make real change. So, take heart, Richard. This is not the time to lose faith or take our eyes away from the prize. Maybe we’ll cross paths on our journey.

  • iowapinko

    Exactly. My iowa hero is Henry Wallace and I would appreciate art that honors his extensive progressive legacy. Ditto the Native peoples, many different tribes lived in this region over the years.

    When the people take power, we will commission art that pays tribute to the contributions from the working classes and the glory of the earth.

    Our day is coming Nylene.

  • GypsyFreyja

    Thank you, my friend. You are too kind.
    You take care also. See ya around!

  • GypsyFreyja

    Thank you.

  • Nylene13

    Who is Harry Wallace?

  • Nylene13

    I just ordered a Lodge 5 quart dutch oven!

    Please tell me about your starter and bread recipe.


  • RickW

    According to the book 1491, the native inhabitants could beat European asses every time – except when the small pox, etc raced ahead and decimated the numbers before the European arrival.

  • Nylene13

    Small pox from blankets given to the Indians by the Europeans.

  • RickW

    There were 3 waves of smallpox infection, beginning shortly after Columbus landed. The infected blankets were more a late measure – after the major damage had been done in wrecking the social infrastructure of the indigenous people. The book is quite comprehensive……..

  • Nylene13

    With the Blankets, they knew what they were doing….

  • Henry Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States, during FDR’s third and next-to-last term. Wallace would have remained FDR’s VP had it not been for the contrivance and duplicity of the Democratic Party’s conservative, Right-wing elite–the DNC of the day–at the Democratic National Convention, where Wallace was the overwhelming favorite among pledged delegates; despite this, Conservocrat leadership managed to foist the virtually unknown but reliably Right-wing Harry Truman on the ailing and beleaguered FDR–who was trying to bring the Pacific theatre of WW II to a conclusion.

    Wallace was a farmer and agriculturalist as well as a Left-wing fighting liberal and a progressive–he would run in 1948 as the Progressive Party’s Presidential candidate. He was influential on many aspects of the New Deal.

    Wallace is one of the subjects of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States documentary series, and if you look up Henry Wallace online, I think you’ll like him a lot. There are videos of speeches he gave where he talks about equal rights regardless of race or gender more than a decade before the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements went into full swing.

    It isn’t hard to see that had Wallace and not Truman become President after FDR’s death, we would be living in a far different–and probably a far better–world today. Very probably no use of atomic weapons on Japan–something even Eisenhower was against–and no Cold War and no Vietnam, the desegregation of public schools, a stronger social safety net and strengthened New Dealish government programs, including universal healthcare, and lots else.

  • Nylene13

    Oh, I think he was the one my Grandfather was always talking about. Was he a Socialist?

    Sounds like they did to him-what they did to Bernie.

  • dreamjoehill

    Rizzo was among the people John & Yoko telephoned from the Mike Douglas Show. It was a “We Love You” call but in an absurdist “even the meanest of blue meanies can be opposed with Love Love Love….

    John also thanked the CIA & the Pentagon for fueling the acid revolution, in a 1981 Playboy interview..