Thursday, May 13, 2021

London to remove two statues linked to the slave trade | Black Lives Matter News

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The monuments of William Beckford, former mayor of London, and John Cass, Member of Parliament, must be returned, according to local authorities.

The local authority that runs London’s historic financial district is to remove statues of two colonial-era British politicians due to their links to the slave trade.

The City of London Corporation voted Thursday to remove the statues of two figures from the 17th and 18th centuries because they had accumulated wealth through the slave trade.

The monuments of William Beckford, a former mayor of London who drew his wealth from plantations in Jamaica which used slave labor, and of John Cass, member of Parliament and prominent figure in the Royal Africa Company who facilitated the transatlantic slave trade , will be reinstalled.

The company launched a public consultation on monuments linked to slavery in September following the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the UK and Europe after the death in US custody of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, months earlier.

The protests, which resulted in the toppling of a statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston during an anti-racist protest, sparked nationwide calls to remove monuments linked to Britain’s colonial past.

The movement has also faced a backlash, particularly after a statue of wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was targeted by protesters.

Earlier this week, new legal protections took effect, meaning historic statues will only be removed under “the most exceptional circumstances.”

Under the law, if a local authority intends to remove a monument and objects from England’s national historic heritage body, the final decision will rest with Communities Minister Robert Jenrick.

Jenrick said the UK should not try to revise its past and wrote in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend that monuments that have existed for generations should not be “taken away on a whim or the demand of a barking crowd ”.

Catherine McGuinness, the policy chairman of the City of London Corporation, said the decision to remove the statues from the Guildhall in London was the result of “precious months of work” by their anti-racism task force.

Anti-Racism Working Group co-chair Caroline Addy said the committee voted “the right answer to a sensitive question.”

“The slave trade is a stain on our history and literally putting those who benefited from it on a pedestal is something out of place in a modern and diverse city,” she said.



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