Churchill statue boarded up in London amid protest fears
London: A statue of late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in London has boarded up as anti-racism and far-right groups both plan protests in the UK capital this weekend, a media report said on Friday.
Other monuments including the Cenotaph were clad in protective sheeting on Thursday after being targeted by vandals during a Black Lives Matter demonstration last week, said the Metro newspaper report.
During the protests last week, the war-time leader’s statue was daubed in spray paint saying he “was a racist”, while a protester was pictured trying to set fire to a union flag on the Cenotaph commemorating the nation’s war dead.
Workers were also seen boarding up the George Washington statue on Trafalgar Square along with another to King James II as well as monuments of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “extremely concerned” that further protests in London, particularly by extreme far-right groups which “advocate hatred and division”, could lead to violence and disorder.
“It is clear that the majority of the protesters have been peaceful. This moment must be a catalyst for systemic, lasting change to tackle the racism and inequalities that black people still face today, in this country and elsewhere.
“However, I’m extremely concerned that further protests in central London not only risk spreading COVID-19 but could lead to disorder, vandalism and violence.
“Extreme far-right groups who advocate hatred and division are planning counter-protests, which means that the risk of disorder is high.
“Staying home and ignoring them is the best response this weekend,” he was quoted as saying by the Metro newspaper as saying.
The toppling of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol last weekend acted as a catalyst for more monuments linked with Britain’s colonial past to be taken down.
The latest to follow suit is Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust after it confirmed two figures depicting Robert Clayton and Thomas Guy will be taken out of public view due to their association with the slave trade.