University of Mons takes down Leopold II statue

University of Mons takes down Leopold II statue

A bust of Leopold II in the University of Mons (UMons) will be moved to storage amid mounting cries to take down monuments of Belgium's colonial king.

The Walloon university took down the statue from its place in the Faculty of Management and Economics on Monday, a day after a massive Black Lives Matter demonstration took place in Brussels.

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"University authorities decided to pull down the bust and to permanently store it away so that no one else —students, teachers or visitors— feels offended by its presence."

In a Facebook post, UMons said that while the statue had already been relocated to a less visible spot, the decision to permanently pull it down came after a petition for its removal began circulating online, reinforcing long-standing feelings of uneasiness surrounding the statue.

"Nearly twenty years ago —aware the statue could provoke feelings of discomfort in students and visitors— the university had moved it to a room where it was no longer supposed to be visible."

The removal of the bust comes as momentum grows in Belgium for other statues and monuments of Leopold II to be removed from public spaces.

A defaced statue of Leopold II was taken down in Antwerp on Monday and, on Wednesday, the dean of Belgium's leading university, KU Leuven, was asked in an open letter to take down a statue of Belgium's colonial king from the university library.

Protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd have plunged the US into chaos and spread over to countries across the world, leading thousands to pour to the streets to demand structural reforms to address biased policing and structural racism.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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