Photos: Ire turns to colonial era statues in anti-racism protests

Anti-racism protesters who tore down a statue honouring a slave trader in a the British port city of Bristol on June 7 have fuelled a debate over how to deal with monuments to historic figures who profited from enslaving African people. These debates in Britain echo controversies in the United States, often focused on statues of confederate generals from the Civil War, and in South Africa, where Cape Town University removed a statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes in 2015. Several statues of people linked to the trans-Atlantic slave trade or Europe’s colonial past have been vandalized in anti-racism protests spurred by the killing of George Floyd.

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST 8 Photos
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Protesters throw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Bristol, England on June 7. The statue of Edward Colston, who made a fortune in the 17th century from trading in West African slaves, was torn down by a group of demonstrators taking part in a worldwide wave of protests. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

Protesters throw a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Bristol, England on June 7. The statue of Edward Colston, who made a fortune in the 17th century from trading in West African slaves, was torn down by a group of demonstrators taking part in a worldwide wave of protests. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST
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Even Britain’s wartime hero, Winston Churchill is under renewed scrutiny. A statue of Churchill was defaced in Parliament Square, London on June 7. Churchill expressed racist and anti-Semitic views and critics blame him for denying food to India during the 1943 famine. Some Britons have long felt that the darker sides of his legacy should be given greater prominence. (Isabel Infantes / AP)

Even Britain’s wartime hero, Winston Churchill is under renewed scrutiny. A statue of Churchill was defaced in Parliament Square, London on June 7. Churchill expressed racist and anti-Semitic views and critics blame him for denying food to India during the 1943 famine. Some Britons have long felt that the darker sides of his legacy should be given greater prominence. (Isabel Infantes / AP)

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST
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The area where the statue of Edward Colston stood is seen a day after on June 8. Statues of figures from Europe and America’s imperialist past have in recent years become the subject of controversies between those who argue that such monuments merely reflect history and those who say they glorify racism. (Matthew Childs / REUTERS)

The area where the statue of Edward Colston stood is seen a day after on June 8. Statues of figures from Europe and America’s imperialist past have in recent years become the subject of controversies between those who argue that such monuments merely reflect history and those who say they glorify racism. (Matthew Childs / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST
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The statue of Robert Milligan, a noted West Indian merchant, slaveholder and founder of London's West India Docks, stands covered in a sack-cloth and sign reading Black Lives Matter, outside the Museum of London Docklands on June 9. By taking matters into their own hands, the protesters raised the temperature of a debate that had previously remained confined to the realms of marches, petitions and newspaper columns. (Renee Bailey/PA via AP)

The statue of Robert Milligan, a noted West Indian merchant, slaveholder and founder of London's West India Docks, stands covered in a sack-cloth and sign reading Black Lives Matter, outside the Museum of London Docklands on June 9. By taking matters into their own hands, the protesters raised the temperature of a debate that had previously remained confined to the realms of marches, petitions and newspaper columns. (Renee Bailey/PA via AP)

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST
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A statue of Belgium’s King Leopold II is defaced with the words ‘assassin’ prior to a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Brussels on June 7. In Belgium, an online petition calling for the removal of statues of colonial-era King Leopold II has garnered more than 30,000 signatures. His troops decimated Congo in the late 1800s. (Olivier Matthys / AP)

A statue of Belgium’s King Leopold II is defaced with the words ‘assassin’ prior to a Black Lives Matter protest rally in Brussels on June 7. In Belgium, an online petition calling for the removal of statues of colonial-era King Leopold II has garnered more than 30,000 signatures. His troops decimated Congo in the late 1800s. (Olivier Matthys / AP)

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST
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A crew inspect the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue on June 8. In the United States, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced plans last week to remove this statue. At the time of the American Civil War, Virginia had been a slave-owning state, and Richmond had been the capital of the rebel Confederate states. (Steve Helber / AP)

A crew inspect the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue on June 8. In the United States, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced plans last week to remove this statue. At the time of the American Civil War, Virginia had been a slave-owning state, and Richmond had been the capital of the rebel Confederate states. (Steve Helber / AP)

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST
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Another statue of King Leopold II of Belgium with a racist graffiti on its side reading ‘Congo is ours’ is pictured in Antwerp after being set on fire. Statues of Leopold have long been a target of activists because of his record of brutal colonial rule in Belgium's former central African colonies. Antwerp took down the statue on June 9, 2020 just days after it was daubed with paint. (Jonas Roosens / Belga / AFP)

Another statue of King Leopold II of Belgium with a racist graffiti on its side reading ‘Congo is ours’ is pictured in Antwerp after being set on fire. Statues of Leopold have long been a target of activists because of his record of brutal colonial rule in Belgium's former central African colonies. Antwerp took down the statue on June 9, 2020 just days after it was daubed with paint. (Jonas Roosens / Belga / AFP)

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST
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The statue of Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham lies on the ground after protesters pulled it down on June 6 in Richmond’ s Monroe Park where it had stood since 1891. The debate over building and monuments named after people involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade has been brewing for some years fuelled by the world’s recently adopted drive to end modern slavery. (Alexa Welch Edlund / Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

The statue of Confederate Gen. Williams Carter Wickham lies on the ground after protesters pulled it down on June 6 in Richmond’ s Monroe Park where it had stood since 1891. The debate over building and monuments named after people involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade has been brewing for some years fuelled by the world’s recently adopted drive to end modern slavery. (Alexa Welch Edlund / Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

UPDATED ON JUN 09, 2020 06:45 PM IST
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