Churchill, Roosevelt, Columbus: what monuments Black Lives Matter activists demolish
Monuments to politicians, merchants, and philanthropists associated with the history of slavery and colonialism have become the main target of Black Lives Matter protests around the world. In Britain, Belgium and the USA, the authorities dismantle them at the request of activists. This is written by BBC.
Journalists figured out why historical figures, which many seem familiar and familiar with, provoked the wrath of fighters against racism.
USA: General Lee, Christopher Columbus, Roosevelt
In the United States, Black Lives Matter activists are consistently fighting monuments to the generals and soldiers of the Confederation of the Southern States of the Civil War era of the 1860s.
In 2017, after clashes in Charlottesville, spreading over several cities in the United States, a real war was declared on the Confederate monuments. According to its results, some cities decided to dismantle all memorials related to the history of the southern states.
In 2020, at the protests caused by the death of George Floyd, the same figures became the target of the activists.
The target of the protesters again became a monument to General Robert Lee, the commander in chief of the army of the southerners and the slave owner. In 2017, protesters, among other things, smashed the face of his monument in North Carolina.
This year, activists have achieved the dismantling of the 12-ton Lee monument in Virginia, erected in 1890. “We will no longer preach a false version of history,” said the state governor, announcing the decision to dismantle the monument.
Confederate statues - both specific historical figures and memorials to fallen soldiers - are being dismantled in many US cities after protests.
In early June, a monument to fallen soldiers in Jacksonville, Florida was dismantled and taken away by truck, and Mayor Lenny Kerry, a Republican from the city, called for the removal of all monuments related to the confederation.
Democrats in the US Senate are preparing to submit a bill to dismantle monuments to the Confederates in Congress buildings. He should go to the lower house.
In parallel with the authorized dismantling, protesters in parts of the United States continue to destroy monuments.
In the city of Richmond, Virginia, in early June, a statue of Christopher Columbus, which stood on the embankment, was painted, set on fire and thrown into the river. Another statue of Columbus was decapitated at the same time in Boston. Another monument to Columbus fell at the hands of fighters for historical justice in the urban landscape last Saturday, July 4 - this time in Baltimore.
The local newspaper Baltimore Sun published a video of how activists knocked down a statue of America's discoverer in the Little Venice area and rode it to the bay.
The Genoese traveler who discovered the New World during his voyage in 1492 is considered by many to be responsible for the centuries-old genocide of the American population that followed.
In late June, the Columbus monuments were dismantled by the authorities in Sacramento and San Francisco - as the latter said, "because he does not deserve veneration."
U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking on Independence Day July 4, mentioned Christopher Columbus in his speech.
“Together we will fight for the American Dream and we will protect, preserve and preserve the American way of life that dates back to 1492, when Columbus discovered America,” the president said.
“We are now trying to fight the radical left, anarchists, agitators, vandals, and those who in many cases have no idea what they are doing,” he added. "We will never allow an angry mob to destroy our monuments, destroy our history, indoctrinate our children."
In June, Donald Trump signed a decree according to which vandals desecrating monuments could face up to 10 years in prison. He also ordered the creation of the "National Park of American Heroes" and created a special commission, which is tasked with developing a plan for the creation of the park and the place where it will be located in 60 days.
His list of "historically significant" Americans included the founding fathers of the nation, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as pioneer Davy Crockett, Baptist preacher Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, and two World War II heroes, Generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton. Trump also included non-Americans who “made significant historical contributions to the discovery, development, or independence of the future United States,” so it is possible that Christopher Columbus will also be there.
The leadership of the American Museum of Natural History in New York decided to dismantle the bronze monument to Theodore Roosevelt. As the museum emphasized, this decision is not connected with the personality of the 26th president of the USA, but with the compositional solution of the monument.
The monument in question depicts Theodore Roosevelt on horseback, accompanied by a foot Indian and a native of Africa. According to the museum's management, the monument "clearly depicts the black and indigenous population of the United States as subordinate and racially inferior."
On the subject: 10 most famous monuments in the United States
The decision to dismantle the monument was supported by the mayor of New York Bill de Blasio and the great-grandson of 26 US President Theodore Roosevelt IV, who stated that the sculptural composition does not reflect the heritage of his great-grandfather.
One of the founders of the Museum of Natural History was the father of the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt Sr. In the museum, several rooms are named after Theodore Roosevelt.
Donald Trump did not support the decision to dismantle the monument. “Silly. Do not do that!" - wrote Trump on Twitter.
Britain: open list, Churchill and Cecil Rhodes
The death of the African American George Floyd at the hands of a policeman provoked massive protests in dozens of US cities and in many countries of the world, and also made us think again about the appropriateness of certain historical monuments.
British activists from the Black Lives Matter movement presented a list of 60 monuments located throughout the United Kingdom.
The goal of the Topple the Racists project is to spark a discussion about dismantling them so that “Britain will finally acknowledge the truth about its past,” activists write.
The list is open, and this sometimes leads to embarrassment. It features, for example, five monuments to Robert Peel, who served as British Prime Minister in the 1830s and 1840s, and was also the Minister of the Interior.
Peale developed nine ethical principles for police officers that are still used in training British police.
Activists demanding the dismantling of the Leeds monument write in the annotation that Peale saw the bill to abolish slavery as a threat to the cotton industry and opposed it, but this is a mistake.
The newspaper Manchester Evening News indicates that Peel could not be the author of the petition for the revocation of the bill of 1806, and his father, who was also named Robert, opposed the abolition of the slave trade.
Also on the list are a monument to Sir Francis Drake, a 16th century navigator famous for his role in the victory over the Spanish Armada, and Admiral Nelson. The list continues to be scrutinized by the British media.
In London, in early June, a monument was dismantled to slave trader Robert Milligan, who owned plantations in Jamaica. This was reportedly done at the request of the public.
Sir Winston Churchill, whose monument was damaged during recent protests in London, is also blamed for racism. Although the monuments to him will not be overestimated in the framework of the work of the committee created by the Mayor of London, many are criticized against Churchill's protests.
“He certainly believed that the people of the white race were superior to the rest, he spoke about this clearly,” notes historian Richard Toy.
“He made unpleasant comments about the Indians, called them monstrous people with monstrous beliefs,” the historian adds.
In Oxford, calls are again being made to remove the monument to Cecil Rhodes, the founder of De Beers, a diamond mining company, who initiated the XNUMXth-century British colonial expansion in South Africa.
In early June, several thousand people marched outside Oriel College, Oxford University, on the facade of which a monument to Rhodes is erected. The protest was peaceful, with participants chanting "Rhodes must fall."
For dismantling the Rhodes statue, 26 out of 48 members of the Oxford City Council, who have the right to remove the monument, are in favor.
One of the Internet petitions for the dismantling of the statue gained more than a quarter of a million signatures.
The rector of Oxford University, Lord Chris Patten, called the protesters' demands "a little hypocritical."
“It's a little hypocritical that Oxford takes money to educate XNUMX students every year, a fifth of whom come from Africa, and then there are demands to throw the Rhodes monument on the Thames,” he said.
Several grants and scholarships to study at Oxford for foreign students are named after Cecil Rhodes. His extensive charity work has touched many educational institutions in South Africa.
Patten added that he shares the same view of the Rhodes figure as Nelson Mandela, who in 2003 called the British colonialist “part of the forces that made South Africa what it is”.
Oxford City Councilor Shaista Aziz called Patten’s statement tactless and not relevant to the claims of activists.
The Rhodes Must Fall movement, which organized the action, emerged in 2015 when a group of students demanded that the Rhodes monument be removed. Then the university leadership eventually decided to leave the monument.
France: the demolition has not yet reached, but the philosopher-enlightener and the general suffered
In Paris, two statues were painted in red paint, relating to the period of the French colonial empire.
The monument to the philosopher-enlightener Voltaire suffered, the state of which, as you know, was replenished through colonial trade.
The monument was also poured with red paint to General Hubert Lioté, who participated in the colonial wars in Indochina and Morocco and considered colonialism a boon for the population of the subordinate territories.
Monuments are erected at the Palace of the Disabled, where Napoleon’s grave is located.
Also in the city of Lille, on the pedestal of the monument to the French general of the 19th century, the governor of Senegal Louis Federbes, unknown people put the inscriptions “colonizer” and “murderer”.
Belgium: King Leopold II
In Belgium, after several weeks of protests against racism, several monuments to King Leopold II were removed from the pedestal.
The monarch who ruled Belgium in the 10th century is known for capturing the valley of the Congo River. Under him, a brutal colonial policy was carried out in relation to the local population, up to genocide. The number of victims of the colonial policy of Belgium is estimated at XNUMX million people. It was under Leopold II that soldiers who performed punitive operations were required to show the hands of the dead.
The Black Lives Matter protests in Belgium were large-scale - ten thousand people took to the streets of Brussels in early June. They took to the square in front of the Palace of Justice, the main court of Belgium, the construction of which was financed by Leopold II.
The monument to Leopold in Antwerp was set on fire and painted with graffiti during the protests, later the city authorities removed it from the pedestal and sent it to the museum. In Brussels, the word “murderer” was written on the monument to the king. Another monument to the king was painted during the protests in the city of Ghent.
The dismantling of monuments to Leopold II in Belgium has opponents who consider the king to be the founder of Belgian international trade, which brought wealth to the country.
The Belgians continue to sign petitions demanding the demolition of all the monuments to the king in the country. One of the petitions was signed by more than 70 thousand people.
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