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Rhodes ‘should be taken down,’ Soas vice-chancellor says

A STATUE of colonialist Cecil Rhodes in Oxford “should be taken down,” the vice-chancellor of London’s Soas university said today. 

Baroness Valerie Amos, who is due to become the first black head of an Oxford college later this year, countered arguments that the statue’s presence is needed “to have a conversation about history.”

She told BBC Breakfast today: “We shouldn't airbrush history but I don't think you need a statue of Cecil Rhodes to help you to have a conversation about that history. I would take it down.

“This is a man who was a white supremacist, an imperialist. He founded a company that made money through slave labour in the mines — and you're telling me that we have to put up a statue of this person, glorify their memory, to have a conversation about our history?"

Rhodes was a 19th century politician and businessman in South Africa who was an ardent supporter of settler colonialism.

On Tuesday thousands of people marched through Oxford to demand the statue be taken down. Oriel college has refused calls over recent years to remove the imperialist. 

Since activists in Bristol pulled down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest last weekend, pressure has mounted on other institutions to review and take down contentious monuments. 

The Colston statue was pulled out of the harbour by Bristol Council today and taken to a “secure” location. 

Bristol Mayor Marvin Reese previously announced that the monument would be displayed in a museum alongside Black Lives Matter placards. 

The statue was retrieved from its watery grave as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council announced the upcoming removal of a statue of Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the scout movement, following police advice that it is on a “target list for attack.”

Mr Baden-Powell, who died in 1941 at the age of 83, was an outspoken supporter of Hitler and fascism. 

Tory MPs flocked to social media to criticise the planned removal of the statue. Poole MP Sir Robert Syms tweeted that he was opposed to the move, while Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, said the removal was “a huge error of judgment” and urged authorities to “put it back.”

The statue is featured on a “topple the racists” list — a map of “problematic statues” in Britain,  launched earlier this week by the Stop Trump coalition.

The list includes statues of historic figures complicit in British colonialism and slavery as well as pubs and roads named after them. 

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