Above photo: NurPhoto via Getty Images.
“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).