Calls for removal of Oxford University statue

Calls for removal of Oxford University statue

A group of councillors have backed a campaign for the removal a statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes from the University of Oxford.

Twenty-six Oxford city councillors signed a letter saying the statue at Oriel College was “incompatible” with the city’s “commitment to anti-racism”.

Photograph by Christopher Hilton

A protest, organised by the “Rhodes Must Fall” campaign as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, is being held later today.

Oriel College have said they supported the “right to peaceful protest”.

City councillors said in a letter that the “city’s public art and monuments should reflect its values”.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council said:
“I’m clear in my support for the Black Lives Matter movement and I have a great deal of sympathy with the Rhodes Must Fall campaign. The question of statues and their historical context is not a simple matter, but sometimes acts of symbolism are important. I know my views are shared by a majority of my fellow councillors.
“It would be better for the statue to be placed in a museum, such as the Ashmolean or the Museum of Oxford, to ensure this noteworthy piece of the story of our city isn’t lost to history.
“Of course, bringing down statues alone isn’t sufficient to address the issue of racism in our society and continued action on this should involve all our city’s key institutions.
I have today written to Oriel College to invite them to apply for planning permission to remove the statue, as it is a Grade II* listed building. Typically such actions are only allowed in the most exceptional of circumstances. But these are exceptional circumstances, and as a City Council we are keen to work with Oriel to help them find the right balance between the laws that protect our historic buildings and the moral obligation to reflect on the malign symbolism of this statue.”

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