From Artforum: “The campaign to replace controversial monuments has faced pushback by those who believe that tearing down statues is equal to erasing history and has also been beset by legal obstacles. Governor Northam’s promise to take down General Lee has been challenged by a descendent of a Virginia family who deeded the land where the monument resides and has been temporarily blocked by a judge. On Saturday, thousands marched to the statue of Lee in protest of police violence and systemic racism. Several lawmakers attended the action in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protesters including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who citing safety issues, urged activists to stop tearing down statues—one man sustained life-threatening injuries when demonstrators pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Fear ignited by the dethroning of a monument of Edward Colston, a slave trader and wealthy benefactor, who was also dumped into a body of water in Bristol, England, spurred city officials in London to build temporary barriers around monuments, shielding them from activists, who are determined to see more come down—one group, called Topple the Racists, has created a map of monuments it wants removed on its website. Mayor Sadiq Kahn, who has vowed to hold a citywide review of London’s monuments, also ordered that statues of Winston Churchill, Britain’s prime minister during World War II and a notorious racist; Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela as well as the Cenotaph war memorial be boarded up for their protection. In the US, some local governments and groups formed by descendants of Confederate soldiers, are preemptively removing statues and moving them safely to storage facilities or are preparing to relocate them to museums.
Iconoclasm is a “phenomenon that happens whenever there’s a revolutionary moment,” James Simpson, a Harvard professor told the Washington Post. “And in a revolutionary moment, the surest, quickest way to attack the old regime, to attack the old dispensation, is to attack the monuments…
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