The City of London Corporation has decided to remove the statutes of two politicians who were said to have some links with the slave trade.
The first statute belonged to William Beckford who was the Mayor of London twice in the late 18th century. Beckford was known to have accumulated wealth from the plantations he owned in Jamaica. The second statue belonged to Sir John Cass, who was a member of parliament, merchant and philanthropist. However, he also had active trade with the Royal African Company, one of the biggest companies in the transatlantic slave trade.
After the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted in the USA and then across the world last summer, numerous historical statues came under the radar for their racist actions. The City of London Corporation, which manages the historical and financial affairs of London, soon convened a task force to reassess the historical sites under its jurisdiction.
The decision to remove the two statues came after soon after an announcement from the UK government, which has proposed a law to safeguard historical monuments in the country. If the law is passed, it would prohibit any person or organization to remove any of the historical statues (around 12,000) in the UK without prior permission. This means that the decision of the City of London might pit it against the UK government, which is determined to enforce the law from March.
The Beckford statue is reported to be moved to an unknown site, while the Cass statue will be returned to Sir John Cass Foundation. Meanwhile, a group has been formed and tasked with finding suitable replacements for the two statutes. The group is also tasked with re-evaluating the names of streets which might be linked to other acts of racism in the past.