POLL: As huge protests planned for Oxford, should Cecil Rhodes statue be removed?

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Following on from Sunday’s demonstrations in Bristol, a ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ protest will take place at the top university this evening. The Victorian imperialist believed in the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race. The former Oxford student is associated with the creation of Rhodesia (now named as Zimbabwe), while also supporting apartheid-like measures. Protests are scheduled to take place at 5pm today to call for the removal of the statue outside Oriel College and call for the curriculum to be changed to reflect diversity.

With that in mind, Express.co.uk is asking: ‘As huge protests planned for Oxford, should Cecil Rhodes statue be removed?’

In 2016, campaigners had called for the statue to be removed before the college decided against the calls.

Femi Nylander, organiser of the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’, said: “What happened in Bristol is the catalyst for this protest.”

In a joint letter to the university, 26 Labour Party councillors are asking for the statue to be removed alongside the associated plaque.

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In the letter reported by the Huffington Post UK, they said: “Cecil Rhodes was a white supremacist who believed in brutal colonial rule and subjugation across Africa and the world.

“A city’s public art and monuments should reflect its values.

“The presence of this statue on our High Street is incompatible with our city’s proud internationalist heritage and commitment to anti-racism.

“We as city councillors support the Rhodes Must Fall campaign in its demands for the removal of the Cecil Rhodes statue from Oxford’s High Street and endorse its wider campaign to decolonise Oxford University.”

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At today’s protest, the group will read out a list of demands similar to that of 2016, which includes the lack of welfare provision for black and minority students and staff.

A former student who asked to remain nameless and was involved in the original campaign said: “Everyone was watching Edward Colston being torn down and thrown into the sea yesterday and it reignited the feeling that this might be our time.

“It was more about dealing with the icons of injustice and using that to question beyond critical elevation of a history that’s reliant on the widespread suffering of others.

“It was always about allowing us to make the past visible rather than erasing it.”

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Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Layla Moran urged the college to remove the statue.

She said: “It was more about dealing with the icons of injustice and using that to question beyond critical elevation of a history that’s reliant on the widespread suffering of others.

“It was always about allowing us to make the past visible rather than erasing it.”

Following the removal of the statue in Bristol on Sunday, UK officials promoted the idea of the right to protests but warned against any violence while reminding the public that social distancing measures remain.

Under current guidelines, only groups of six can gather.

These gatherings must be outside, while social distancing should remain.

Ahead of today’s protest, organisers have stated they will try to adhere to social distancing regulations.


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