Statue Of Slave Owner Robert Milligan Torn Down In London

Joshua RogersJoshua Rogers in News, UK
Published 10.06.20

Needless to say, Britain’s colonial history isn’t exactly something to shout from the rooftops, and with the recent Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death, an increasing number of people are calling for the statues of questionable men, and let’s face it, slave owners, to be removed from towns and cities.

Which is why a statue of 18th century slave trader Robert Milligan in east London has been brought down after campaigners vowed to protest every day until it was removed.

The figure of Robert Milligan was taken down by a JCB from its plinth in West India Quay following a petition by a Labour MP.

Milligan, born in 1746, was involved in the construction of the West India Docks, which is where is statue was located. When he died in 1809, he owned 526 people who were forced to work on his family’s sugar plantations in Jamaica.

He also advised the government on how to quash a rebellion by escaped slaves on the island in the late 1700s.

In a video shared online by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the controversial sculpture can be seen being torn from its plinth outside the Museum of London Docklands.

In his post, Mr Khan said it was a ‘sad truth’ that the UK has benefited a great deal from the slave trade and that this particular aspect of the nation’s past should not be celebrated.

He wrote: “The statue of slave trader Robert Milligan has now been removed from West India Quay.

“It’s a sad truth that much of our wealth was derived from the slave trade – but this does not have to be celebrated in our public spaces.”

The Museum of London Docklands said the statue of the prominent British slave trader had “stood uncomfortably” outside its premises “for a long time”.

“The Museum of London recognises that the monument is part of the ongoing problematic regime of white-washing history, which disregards the pain of those who are still wrestling with the remnants of the crimes Milligan committed against humanity,” they added.

After the statue was removed, a spokesperson for the Museum said the placards would remain until it was taken away.

They said: “Now more than ever at a time when Black Lives Matter is calling for an end to public monuments honouring slave owners, we advocate for the statue of Robert Milligan to be removed on the grounds of its historical links to colonial violence and exploitation.

“We are currently working with a consortium to remove this statue and are aware of other legacies and landmarks within the area. The statue presently stands shrouded with placards and is now an object of protest, we believe these protests should remain as long as the statue remains.”

It comes after anti-racism protesters in Bristol tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston on Sunday.

Mayor Marvin Rees said he felt no “sense of loss” after the controversial bronze statue of Edward Colston was pulled down and thrown into the harbour by protesters on Sunday.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “criminal act”.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The PM’s view is that in this country, where there is strong opinion, there is a democratic process which should be followed.

“People can campaign for the removal of a statue but what happened yesterday was a criminal act and when the criminal law is broken that is unacceptable and the police will want to hold to account those responsible.

“The PM absolutely understands the strength of feeling, but in this country we settle our differences democratically and if people wanted the removal of the statue there are democratic routes which can be followed.”

I think it’s a great move; tear them all down I say.

We don’t need to adore this individuals and hold them in high regard when the reality is they were terrible men who brought misery and despair to thousands.

History shall not be kind to them.