London: Black voices are being heard in UK in an unprecedented way following the heinous and public homicide of George Floyd. Under the banner of Black Lives Matter (BLM) monuments are being desecrated and thousands of people are on the streets in cities all over the UK protesting about racism, fascism and Britain’s history.
Symbolically the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled and rolled into Bristol harbour, the police made a tactical decision not to protect the statue as that would have caused further disorder and tension. Colston Girls school in Bristol also removed another statue of Colston and the Colston Music Hall is to be renamed by autumn 2020.
In Parliament Square Winston Churchill and Mahatma Gandhi were labelled racist and Abraham Lincoln was spray painted with the names of people who had died in Police custody in US.
The statue of Robert Milligan, owner of 526 slaves and the wealth behind the construction of West India Docks, had his statue at the site taken down by Tower Hamlets Council.
The statue of Scottish Conservative Henry Dundas (1742-1811) who towers over Dundas Street in Edinburgh may have to be removed for his role in delaying the abolition of slavery by as much as 15 years.
Queen Victoria’s statue in Leeds was covered in the words “slave owner”, “coloniser”, “murderer”, “BLM” and “Slag”.
Founder of Scout movement Robert Baden-Powell’s statue in Poole will have a 24-hour guard as locals demand that it stays, amid BLM accusations that he was homophobic, racist and a nazi sympathiser.
Liverpool University is renaming a hall of residence named after four term Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, because of his father’s association with slavery. The Liverpool Mayor is in favour of changing the names of all the streets and buildings in Liverpool that are named after slave traders.
The Rhodes Must Fall campaign around the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford, has got the support of Oxford City Council who have invited the College to apply for planning permission to remove the statue as it is a listed building.
The Cenotaph Memorial in Whitehall was defaced on D-Day and a protestor tried to set fire to the Union Jack.
Neil Basu, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner, told Channel-4 news he would probably joined have BLM protestors if he was not a police officer. Met Police Chief Cressida Dick said there were more than 900 assaults on Police officers and staff since the lockdown and a further 62 were injured during the BLM protests last weekend.
Two men have been arrested after a video, showing a physical attack on Wednesday against two Police officers in Hackney, went viral on social media.
Right-winger Tommy Robinson along with other British patriots and the Democratic Football Lads Alliance are expected to form a protective ring around Churchill, the Cenotaph and other British monuments on Saturday 13th.
Anticipating a possible conflict between BLM and the monument defenders, the Met Police are urging people not to gather for protests as this increases the risk of further coronavirus infections. The Essex Police Chief has said that people’s safety will be prioritised over property.
A group of Tory MPs and Conservative Friends of the Armed are backing the Desecration of War Memorials Bill, that would empower the police and the courts to prosecute those who have destroyed or defaced memorials erected or installed to commemorate conflict or war.
Every aspect of inequality has been highlighted since the lockdown, football teams and Labour politicians have taken the knee in support Black Lives Matter and to end racism. Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, has established a new Diversity Commission to review and ensure that London’s landmarks reflect the diversity of the metropolis.
Black authors top the book bestseller list on Amazon and at UK’s Waterstones book stores, the comedy series Little Britain has been removed from Netflix and BBC iPlayer and Britbox. UKTV have removed the episode of Faulty Towers in which Basil Faulty coined the phrase “Don’t mention the war”.
Yet in the guise of satire Home Secretary Priti Patel and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have been the focus of socialist abuse calling them “coconut” or “token browns”. Patel has been accused by a consortium of Labour Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority MPs of using her heritage and personal experiences to silence opposition voices about racism, Patel refused to be silenced.
No one in their right mind condones imperialism, slavery or racism, how will UK judge its own history in today’s setting? A mature democracy cannot obliterate the past but accepting history is part of reconciliation.
On 13th December 2019, the day after the Conservative general election victory, Boris Johnson promised to level up and unite the UK, he looked forward to new hospitals, better schools and safer streets, and a year of prosperity in 2020.
This week Sajid Javid, former Chancellor, wrote in The Times that racism is a challenge that Boris Johnson must meet head on, “At its heart, levelling-up is about fairness. It recognises that whilst talent is evenly distributed across our country, opportunity is not.”