Plaques on statues do not go far enough, says anti-racism group

An anti-racism charity has said that plaques on statues of slave owners do not go far enough.

Steve West, from Stand Up to Racism, said that statues of slave traders in Scotland should be taken down.

Speaking after a protest in Edinburgh at St Andrew Square, Mr West said that while plaques on statues explaining their role in the slave trade were a step in the right direction, they should be taken down completely.

Mr West said: “It is positive that the plaque will be put there, but it doesn’t go far enough. Statues are there to commemorate so-called great people.

“So the fact there is a statue there gives a message that he was some sort of great person, so I think it would be far better if the statue was taken down.”

Black Lives Matter protests
Protesters gathered at St Andrew Square (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Edinburgh City Council is in talks to place a plaque on the statue of Henry Dundas, who towers above St Andrew Square.

Dundas’s life has come under fire during the Black Lives Matter movement, due to obstructing the abolition of slavery, leading to thousands more black people being taken into slavery.

Mr West said more needed to be done to educate Scotland’s young people about its history with the slave trade.

He said: “It is important that when people think about the Industrial Revolution and the great things that were invented as part of that, they realise where a lot of the funds came from. It is very important that people realise the history of the slave trade.”

Over the last week, renewed calls have been made to take down all the statues of slave traders that commemorate Scotland’s imperial past.

Black Lives Matter protests
Stand Up to Racism hopes to highlight Scotland’s relationship with the slave trade (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr West paid tribute to George Floyd, a black man in America who was killed by police officers, saying: “The brutal murder of George Floyd has set off a series of events and more and more people are taking this as an opportunity to say racism has got to be brought to an end.

“If there’s anything positive from it, this is it.”

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