Removal of Cecil Rhodes statue backed by Oxford college

The governing body of an Oxford University college has "expressed their wish" to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes, following a campaign for it to be taken down.

A statement by Oriel College on Wednesday said the governing body had voted in favour of launching an independent inquiry into controversy surrounding the monument.

The college said it had "expressed their wish to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes and the King Edward Street Plaque" to the commission.

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OXFORD, June 10, 2020 -- Demonstrators take part in a protest demanding Oxford University to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes outside Oriel College in Oxford, Britain on June 9, 2020. According to local media, hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in Oxford to call for a statue of Cecil Rhodes to be pulled down, following the toppling of a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston during a protest in Bristol last Sunday. (Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)
OXFORD, UNITED KINGDOM - 2020/06/09: Cecil Rhodes statue stands at the front facade of the Oriel College in Oxford during the protest. Cecil was an English-born businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa. The founder of the diamond company De Beers and the founder of the state of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) , which was named after him. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign was reignited from a 2016 campaign following recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations after the demise of George Floyd under police custody in Mineapolis. Despite the Covid19 lockdown, protesters globally have united to demand change. (Photo by David Mbiyu/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, United Kingdom. The death of George Floyd in the U.S. last May 25, in Minneapolis, at the hands of police, has unleashed protests for racial justice and against police brutality in cities around the world. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, United Kingdom. The death of George Floyd in the U.S. last May 25, in Minneapolis, at the hands of police, has unleashed protests for racial justice and against police brutality in cities around the world. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
OXFORD, June 10, 2020-- Demonstrators take part in a protest demanding Oxford University to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes outside Oriel College in Oxford, Britain on June 9, 2020. According to local media, hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in Oxford to call for a statue of Cecil Rhodes to be pulled down, following the toppling of a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston during a protest in Bristol last Sunday. (Photo by Ray Tang/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, United Kingdom. The death of George Floyd in the U.S. last May 25, in Minneapolis, at the hands of police, has unleashed protests for racial justice and against police brutality in cities around the world. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Police officers guard the statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes statue as demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, United Kingdom. The death of George Floyd in the U.S. last May 25, in Minneapolis, at the hands of police, has unleashed protests for racial justice and against police brutality in cities around the world. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstration placards are placed outside Oriel College near to statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes statue as demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, United Kingdom. The death of George Floyd in the U.S. last May 25, in Minneapolis, at the hands of police, has unleashed protests for racial justice and against police brutality in cities around the world. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: The statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes statue is seen as demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, United Kingdom. The death of George Floyd in the U.S. last May 25, in Minneapolis, at the hands of police, has unleashed protests for racial justice and against police brutality in cities around the world. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, United Kingdom. The death of George Floyd in the U.S. last May 25, in Minneapolis, at the hands of police, has unleashed protests for racial justice and against police brutality in cities around the world. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: A plaque dedicated to Cecil Rhodes in King Edward Street, adjacent to University of Oxford's Oriel College on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protest outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Police officers stand guard outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Police officers stand guard outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. Cecil Rhodes was a British businessman and politician in South Africa, who served as Prime Minister of the Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Police during a protest calling for the removal of the statue of 19th century imperialist, politician Cecil Rhodes from an Oxford college which has reignited amid anti-racism demonstrations. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
People during a protest calling for the removal of the statue of 19th century imperialist, politician Cecil Rhodes from an Oxford college which has reignited amid anti-racism demonstrations. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
People during a protest calling for the removal of the statue of 19th century imperialist, politician Cecil Rhodes from an Oxford college which has reignited amid anti-racism demonstrations. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest arranged by the 'Rhodes Must Fall' campaign, calling for the removal of a statue of British businessman and imperialist Cecil John Rhodes, from outside Oriel College at the University of Oxford in Oxford, west of London on June 9, 2020. - Thousands of people on Tuesday called for a statue of the 19th century British imperialist Cecil Rhodes to be removed from an Oxford University college, as debate raged across the country for the removal of other monuments to the nation's colonial past. Protesters chanted "Take it down!" and "Decolonise!", and held placards urging "Rhodes Must Fall" and "Black Lives Matter" in front of the statue at Oriel College. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest arranged by the 'Rhodes Must Fall' campaign, calling for the removal of a statue of British businessman and imperialist Cecil John Rhodes, from outside Oriel College at the University of Oxford in Oxford, west of London on June 9, 2020. - Thousands of people on Tuesday called for a statue of the 19th century British imperialist Cecil Rhodes to be removed from an Oxford University college, as debate raged across the country for the removal of other monuments to the nation's colonial past. Protesters chanted "Take it down!" and "Decolonise!", and held placards urging "Rhodes Must Fall" and "Black Lives Matter" in front of the statue at Oriel College. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest calling for the removal of a statue of British businessman and imperialist Cecil John Rhodes, from outside Oriel College at the University of Oxford in Oxford, west of London on June 9, 2020. - Following the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on June 6, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign has called for a protest action outside Oriel College, University of Oxford where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes is mounted on the wall. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Mounted police is seen as demonstrators gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold placards during a protest arranged by the 'Rhodes Must Fall' campaign, calling for the removal of a statue of British businessman and imperialist Cecil John Rhodes, from outside Oriel College at the University of Oxford in Oxford, west of London on June 9, 2020. - Following the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on June 6, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign has called for a protest action outside Oriel College, University of Oxford where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes is mounted on the wall. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: A demonstrators raises his fist opposite the Cecil John Rhodes statue as people gather outside University of Oxford's Oriel College during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People during a protest calling for the removal of the statue of 19th century imperialist, politician Cecil Rhodes from an Oxford college which has reignited amid anti-racism demonstrations. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
Participants gather during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign calling for the removal of the statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes outside Oriel College, at the University of Oxford on June 9, 2020. - Following the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on June 6, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign has called for a protest action outside Oriel College, University of Oxford where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes is mounted on the wall. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Participants gather during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign calling for the removal of the statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes outside Oriel College, at the University of Oxford on June 9, 2020. - Following the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on June 6, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign has called for a protest action outside Oriel College, University of Oxford where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes is mounted on the wall. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: A demonstrators holds a placard reading "Rhodes must go" during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Demonstrators hold placards during a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign protests outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A protester in front of Oriel College, Oxford, beneath the statue of Cecil Rhodes, during a protest calling for the removal of the statue of 19th century imperialist, politician Cecil Rhodes from the Oxford college which has reignited amid anti-racism demonstrations. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
OXFORD, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: The Rhodes statue on the facade of Oriel College, Oxford, prior to a protest called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign on June 09, 2020 in Oxford, England. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign are to protest outside University of Oxford's Oriel College where a statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes looks out over the High Street and the college's front door. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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It follows a long-running campaign demanding the removal of the Rhodes statue, which gained renewed attention in recent weeks.

"The governing body of Oriel College has today voted to launch an independent commission of inquiry into the key issues surrounding the Rhodes statue," the statement said.

"They also expressed their wish to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes and the King Edward Street Plaque. This is what they intend to convey to the independent commission of inquiry.

"Both of these decisions were reached after a thoughtful period of debate and reflection and with the full awareness of the impact these decisions are likely to have in Britain and around the world.

"The commission will deal with the issue of the Rhodes legacy and how to improve access and attendance of BAME undergraduate, graduate students and faculty, together with a review of how the college's 21st-century commitment to diversity can sit more easily with its past."

The commission will be chaired by Carole Souter, the current master of St Cross College and former chief executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

A report for the governing body will be produced by the end of the year, the statement added.

Demonstrations have taken place outside Oriel College calling for the statue to be removed from the High Street entrance of the building, as well as anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd in the US.

A similar demonstration was held in Bristol, which saw protesters topple the statue of slave trader Edward Colston and throw it into a harbour.

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