Audit of statues in Lambeth and Southwark to identify any with links to colonial past

By Grainne Cuffe and Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporters

Town halls are doing an audit of their statues and street names to identify any links with slavery and the UK’s colonial past.

Southwark and Lambeth are looking into whether to remove colonial-era landmarks in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the US police, and the worldwide protests that have followed.

Statues and works of art in Lambeth could be renamed if they have links to “slavery, colonialism, and oppression of black communities”.

Councillor Sonia Winifred, cabinet member for equalities and culture at the council, announced the council’s audit plans on June 10 via Twitter.

“Lambeth council is launching an audit of all landmarks, statues and works of art in public spaces in the borough for their links to slavery, colonialism and oppression of black communities.

“That audit will be brought to community consultation. Black Lives Matter,” she said.

Southwark leader Councillor Peter John said the review, to be led by Cllr Johnson Situ, cabinet member for growth and planning, was a response to “the killing of George Floyd and the injustice and racism experienced by our BAME communities”.

He said it would include: “An anti-racist audit of the borough to identify statues and street names that do not reflect our borough’s diversity, especially anything with links to slavery or our country’s colonial past, and to identify positive opportunities for the celebration of more diverse figures.

“A listening exercise with communities across the borough, partner organisations, and our staff, to hear their concerns, and identify solutions to address entrenched and persistent racism and injustice.

“A call to all businesses and organisations in the borough to work with us to implement these solutions, taking positive action to ensure equality of opportunity.”

Cllr Situ is expected to come back with an update on the review towards the end of summer, but between now and then the council will share details of how the community can get involved.

Mr Floyd died after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes, including nearly three minutes when Mr Floyd was unresponsive.

Chauvin was fired and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, while three officers who were also there were fired and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Black Lives Matter activists have made of a list of 75 UK statues they wish to target.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced a review of all of London’s statues and street names, saying any with links to slavery “should be taken down”.

A statue of slaveholder Robert Milligan has been removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands.

Pictured top: A Black Lives Matter demonstration in Marble Arch on Saturday (Picture: PA)

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