Black Lives Matters protesters calls removal statue of another racist and colonialist in UK
A Black Lives Matter protest is being held in Oxford today amid calls for its statue of Cecil Rhodes to be pulled down.
An online petition has gained more than 9,000 signatures and urges Oriel College at the University of Oxford to remove the statue.
Rhodes was a 19th century businessman who protesters argue represents colonialism and racism.
The planned protest comes after a Black Lives Matters demonstration in Bristol city centre on Sunday, during which a statue of Edward Colston was toppled over then dumped in the nearby harbour.
A campaign to remove the Oxford statue of Rhodes was launched in 2016, called ‘Rhodes Must Fall’. But it failed to persuade the college to take action and the monument remained.
A sign saying “Rhodes, you’re next” was taped to University Church, opposite the statue on Sunday.
In an open letter to the University of Oxford’s vice-chancellor, campaigners said “none of the demands of the movement have been met and student protests and concerns continue to be dismissed by senior members of the university”.
Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds said: “My view is that it staying where it is without any other symbol there that would highlight what occurred during those awful times is not helpful.
“Some people want an opposing symbol there, you have others who want it to be removed – for me the critical thing is to listen to the black community within Oxford and those who are directly impacted by this.
“I am not going to seek to speak for them, I don’t think that would be helpful.”
Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran said while she did not endorse “vigilante action” she did believe the statue should go.
“The statues of white supremacists and slave merchants should not still be standing in our cities – that’s why the statue of Cecil Rhodes must come down,” she said.
“I’m not endorsing vigilante action – but I would urge Oriel College in the strongest terms to think about what message this statue sends in 2020, and to remove it.”
At least 19 Oxford city councillors have called for the statue to be “immediately” removed in an open letter.