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Share your opinion: Confronting a bygone colonial era, London removes slave trader statue

The statue of Robert Milligan, an 18th century slave trader, was removed from its plinth outside a London museum on Tuesday after global anti-racism protests triggered a debate about how Britain commemorates its imperial past. The removal coincided with the funeral of Floyd George, who was murdered by American police in May.

Image credit: Reuters UK

Statues glorifying slave traders and colonialists have come into sharp focus in recent days, as part of a broader movement inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests that started in the United States following the death of George Floyd.

“While it’s a sad truth that much of our city and nation’s wealth was derived from the slave trade, this does not have to be celebrated in our public spaces,” said London Mayor Sadiq Khan in a tweet with a photo of the statue.

Earlier, Khan ordered a review of statues and street names across London, in response to mass protests in the city and elsewhere.

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On Sunday, protesters in the English port city of Bristol tore down the statue of a slave trader and threw it in the harbour.

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In Oxford on Monday more than 1,000 demonstrators demanded the removal of a statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes.

The previously obscure statue of Milligan stood in front of the Museum of London Docklands, on the edge of the glitzy business district of Canary Wharf, which is surrounded by the multi-ethnic, working-class borough of Tower Hamlets.

Milligan, who owned sugar plantations in Jamaica, was involved in the construction of London’s West India Docks.

Onlookers cheered and applauded as workers in high-visibility jackets separated the statue from its plinth, then lifted it off with a crane truck.

The mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, told Reuters from the scene he felt strongly it was no longer appropriate to leave the statue in place. He said it would be put into storage and discussions would take place about what to do with it.

Do you have buildings or statues in your city that celebrate slave traders? Do you have an opinion on the removal of these statues, whether for or against - we'd like to hear from you:

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