Defaced Churchill statue removed from box for Macron’s visit
Wednesday, 17 June 2020
The metal case protecting the statue of Winston Churchill in London will be removed for a visit from French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, London’s City Hall said.
Churchill’s statue was defaced earlier this month with the inscription ‘was a racist’ under his name, as several symbols of the UK’s colonial past have recently been targeted in anti-racist demonstrations.
Fearing further damage, the mayor of London had decided to shelter it in a metal crate ahead of demonstrations organised by anti-racist organisations and the extreme right in the British capital last Saturday.
Macron will be in London on Thursday for the 80th anniversary of French General Charles de Gaulle’s appeal from the BBC offices in London to continue the fight against Nazi Germany.
This will be Macron’s first visit since the end of February due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
Protections remain in place for the statues of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi for the time being, but their removal is “under consideration,” said a spokesman for Mayor Sadiq Khan.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a great admirer of Winston Churchill, told MPs that his government was “looking at new ways in which we may legislate against vandalism of war memorials.”
He announced Monday the creation of a commission on racial inequality, calling for the substance of racism to be addressed, rather than the symbols.
In France, de Gaulle too has been targeted by anti-racists: a bust of the General was vandalized in the commune of Hautmont, his head covered with orange fluorescent paint and the pedestal tagged “slaver” on the back.