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.
Over 6,000 people have signed a petition calling for the removal of the Gandhi statue in Leicester, England. The petition accuses the icon of peaceful and non-violent protests of being a “facist [sic] 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,” the author of the petition, Kerri Pangulier, wrote.
The accusations likely stem from comments made by Gandhi during his time in South Africa, then part of the British Empire, which were highly disparaging of black Africans, and the fact he said “I do not believe Herr Hitler to be as bad as he is portrayed” in 1940.
Statues of the independence leader also stand in Manchester and London. The statue in London is amongst several in Parliament Square, including ones commemorating Sir Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela, that have been boarded up by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, over fears of vandalism.
Claudia Webbe, the Labour Party Member of Parliament for Leicester East, said that the petition to remove the statue of Gandhi is a “massive distraction” from the wider Black Lives Matter movement.
Webbe said that the Indian leader “was part of creating a movement in the same way that Martin Luther King created a movement,” according to the BBC.
“His form of peaceful protest, like Black Lives Matter, is a force for change,” she said, adding: “There is not any desire from the black community to move that symbol of change.”
Although the petition to remove the monument is not directly linked to the Black Lives Matter protests, it comes amidst a widespread campaign to remove historical statues throughout the country.