Statues in London “commemorating or memorializing people who were slavers” could soon be removed, its mayor announced Tuesday, following the toppling of a monument in another British city over the weekend.
The declaration comes as Sadiq Khan has established a commission to “review and improve diversity across London’s public realm to ensure the capital’s landmarks suitably reflect London’s achievements and diversity,” his office says.
“I suspect the committee may take down slavers’ statues,” Khan told Sky News Tuesday, adding that “we shouldn’t be commemorating or memorializing people who were slavers.”
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A statue of slave trader and philanthropist Edward Colston was torn down in Bristol on Sunday before being tossed into the harbor by demonstrators calling for police accountability and reform following the death in Minnesota of George Floyd on May 25 while in police custody.
Khan’s office says the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm will “focus on increasing representation among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, women, the LGBTQ+ community and disability groups.”
“London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with more than 300 languages spoken every day, yet statues, plaques, and street names largely reflect Victorian Britain — as highlighted by recent Black Lives Matter protests,” the statement continued.
The commission, made up of “arts, community and council leaders across the capital, as well as historians”, will “review the landmarks that currently makes up London’s public realm, further the discussion into what legacies should be celebrated, and make a series of recommendations aimed at establishing best practice and standards,” it added.
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London is not the only European city reviewing its landmarks following Floyd’s death.
In Antwerp, Belgium, a statue of King Leopold II – whose reign over what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo saw millions of people die, according to the BBC – was removed Tuesday following recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.