London Mayor Sadiq Khan Calls For Slave Trader Statues To Be Removed From City
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for statues of slave traders to be torn down ahead of a review from the Commission of Diversity in the Public Realm.
It comes after protesters pulled down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol over the weekend, prompting questions over what the existence of such landmarks represent.
Now, the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm is set to review all the landmarks in London, including statues, street art, street names and other memorials, assessing which legacies should remain and be celebrated, before reporting back.
Although Khan didn’t want to guess what the commission would decide, he did admit on a personal level he would like to see the statues of the slave traders removed.
When asked by the BBC’s Today programme whether he believed the review would lead to the statues being taken down, he said:
I hope so. One of the things I’ve realised is I’ve not got ownership of the statues or indeed some of the land some of these statues are on.
But it’s a wider conversation I want to have, which is the diversity of the public realm in our city.
When probed over whether they would be allowed to go as far as changing the names of certain streets, Khan said it would depend entirely on what the commission recommends.
‘I’m all in favour of our city reflecting the values that we have and the diversity of our city,’ he added. ‘More murals, more blue plaques that reflect that but also statues of people that reflect our society.’
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests in London, the words ‘was a racist’ were painted on the statue of former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square.
However, Khan revealed he would not give his support to those calling for the removal of the wartime landmark.
‘Nobody’s perfect whether it’s Churchill, whether it’s Gandhi, whether it’s Malcolm X,’ he explained, adding he believes ‘slavers are quite clear cut in my view’.
Khan went on to refer to the campaign that called for the erection of a statue of Millicent Fawcett, who campaigned for women’s votes, after campaigners discovered all the statues there represented men.
Not only are there some of slavers that I think should be taken down, and the commission will advise us on that, but actually we haven’t got enough representation of people of colour, Black people, women, the LGBT community.
Protests, much like the ones that saw the Colston statue pulled down and the Churchill landmark defaced, continue here in the UK and in the US, in the fight against systemic racism.
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