London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced today that he is creating a commission that will judge whether or not all of the city’s statues, monuments, plaques, street names, and the names of public buildings properly reflect “diversity.”
Khan’s move comes after rioters at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol on Sunday tore down a 125-year-old statue of Edward Colston and threw it in the city’s harbour, as previously reported by Voice of Europe. Police refused to intervene against the rioters on the grounds that they “understand” why the rioters did it.
The Mayor made the announcement while being interviewed by the British media today. The institution will be named the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. The Commission will be co-chaired by Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries Debbie Weekes-Bernard and Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries Justine Simons. Historians, council members, as well as community leaders and leaders in the arts will also sit on the Committee but have not yet been named.
He said that the Commission’s purview will be to examine all of the city’s landmarks for connections to slavery, according to a report by The Guardian. Landmarks which the Commission decides “do not reflect London’s values” will be removed.
Khan declined to name any specific landmarks that he believes should be eliminated, saying that will be a matter for the Commission to decide.
The Commission will also be able to intercede in discussions about the construction and naming of new landmarks and monuments.
“It is an uncomfortable truth that our nation and city owes a large part of its wealth to its role in the slave trade,” Khan said during the interview. “And while this is reflected in our public realm, the contribution of many of our communities to life in our capital has been wilfully ignored. This cannot continue.”
“The Black Lives Matter protests have rightly brought this to the public’s attention, but it’s important that we take the right steps to work together to bring change and ensure that we can all be proud of our public landscape,” he added.
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