Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at the Parliament Square has been covered and boarded up completely to protect it from anti-racism and anti-fascism Black Lives Matter protestors, who have threatened to bring down nearly 60 statues across Britain of those historic figures who expressed racist views towards black people.
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi right outside the British Parliament is among several monuments covered and boarded up in London, ahead of another set of planned protests to condemn racism and the racist killing of African-American George Floyd.
Campaigners have called for the removal of Gandhi’s statues in London, Leicester, Manchester and Bloomsbury stating that Gandhi was openly racist towards black Africans and called them inferior, savages and Kaafirs.
The steps below Mahatma Gandhi’s statue and the sculpture of former UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill nearby were among those targeted with graffiti during anti-racism Black Lives Matter protests last weekend. “Racist” was written under Gandhi’s statue by protestors – the same statue is now completely covered up.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed that the Metropolitan Police were working on a “robust” policing plan to keep Londoners safe and to prevent disorder, including covering up key landmarks.
“Together with our partners, we are ensuring that key statues and monuments at risk, including the Cenotaph, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela, are covered and protected,” he said.
Sadiq Khan’s office confirmed that Mahatma Gandhi’s statue is also among the monuments being protected.
A petition to remove Mahatma Gandhi statue in Leicester has received more than 5,000 signatures. The online petition accuses the Indian independence campaigner of being “a fascist, racist and sexual predator”.
Last year, students from Manchester called for a similar statue of Gandhi to be removed because of his “well-documented, anti-black racism”.
Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe called the petition a “massive distraction” from the Black Lives Matter movement, but campaigners say that Gandhi encouraged hatred of Black people and he should not be glorified. Students in Manchester last year also called for the removal of Gandhi statues over racism.
The petition comes after the statue of 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled as part of a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol and since then all statues symbolising racism are under attack.
“The statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement in saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a Twitter statement, as he urged people to stay away from further protests amid fears of more violence.
A petition by British Indian campaigners calling on the Leicester City Council to remove the statue of Gandhi from the city states: “Gandhi is a fascist, racist and sexual predator. For years he has been idolised and taught in school curriculum.
For a lot of people in my community, he has bought inconsolable suffering against my people.
As a result, I do not wish to see a statue and praise of that kind of character. Therefore, I want to take action to remove it.”
The petition added: “I suggest, conducting your own research on Gandhi and align it with your beliefs before signing this protest.
Ultimately, I believe the following three qualities in anybody, despite what may have been achieved within their life, should never be held as an “icon” or inspiration to others.
Furthermore, with YOUR help we can all come together to reflect the change we want to see in the world.”
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled by then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in London’s Parliament Square a couple of years ago.—AP