No. 23June 27, 2020

Protests Against Racism, Police Brutality, Killings and Impunity Continue 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 22, 2020.

• Conflicting Authorities in Conflict with Today's Conditions

- Voice of Revolution -

• Statues and Symbols of Slavery, Genocide and
Racism Come Crashing Down

Signs of Change in Ireland

Bank of England's Attempt to Whitewash
Its History and Present Role

- Workers' Weekly -

Protests Against Racism, Police Brutality, Killings
and Impunity Continue
Photo Review

Protests Against Racism, Police Brutality, Killings and Impunity Continue

Conflicting Authorities in Conflict
with Today's Conditions

Washington, DC, May 30, 2020

In the United States, the many conflicts between President Trump and the military are increasingly on open display. So too are those between Trump and state-level authorities, like Governors. These public conflicts, especially in relation to authority to use force, are indications of how sharp the conflicts among the ruling factions have become. They are also serving to further undermine the legitimacy of the claims of these authorities, whether military, federal or state, to have and control the monopoly on the use of force in the name of society.

The military is not supposed to publicly criticize the Commander-in-Chief, as that in itself calls into question his authority. Yet when Trump threatened to call out the military to suppress the broad and continuing resistance to racist police killings and government impunity, not only did retired Generals speak out, but so did active duty soldiers. Indeed, opposition was such that the Military Times, a voice of the military, carried an article specifically giving voice to those opposing such use of the military.

An Army captain openly spoke of refusing orders saying, "I oppose these missions, but if they are to happen, I want to be there to make sure they are done the right way, including providing medical care to those who need it and refusing to carry out unlawful or unethical orders."

An Army staff sergeant said: "I'm totally against using our active duty military personnel for any type of riot control." "My main reason is my troops are not trained in crowd control tactics, they are trained to meet and defeat with deadly force any enemy of the U.S. who is attacking us," he added and fears that such deployments could result in the deaths of demonstrators. In addition, a number of national guard already deployed at the state level did refuse orders to join in repressing demonstrators.

All this open opposition is an indication that Trump is failing to unite the military bureaucracy, a main responsibility of the president in order to preserve the union and prevent conflicts among the contending authorities from breaking out into more open violent civil war. The military bureaucracy is a massive force, part of the state machinery that persists from one president to the next. It has within it its own conflicts, such as those between the Navy, Army, Marines and Air Force as well as their various intelligence forces and contention with the many other intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA). In the past, imperialist war has been used by presidents to unite the bureaucracy, as occurred when George Bush invaded Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz, a Defense Department official and architect of the war said it was not for purposes of eliminating weapons of mass deconstruction, as there were none, but rather to unite the military bureaucracy. But Trump's efforts to do the same, using Syria as one example, have so far failed. On the contrary, the conflicts have become more open as the existing arrangements of government no longer function. As well, with the broad anger about the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing resistance, the people are increasingly rejecting those in authority as unfit to govern.

Growing Conflicts Between Federal and State Governments

National Guard amass on Seattle street, June 4, 2020.

The problem of preserving the union in the face of these many conflicting authorities within and between the executive and the military, is also showing itself in conflicts between the federal and state governments, including state governors. As resistance spread and persisted across the country demanding justice for George Floyd and all the many other racist police killings, Trump threatened governors and mayors saying, "If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them."

Governors immediately spoke out against him. Both California Governor Newsom and New York Governor Cuomo said "no thanks." Illinois Governor Pritzker said, "I reject the notion that the federal government can send troops into the state of Illinois." He said Trump's "rhetoric is inflaming matters," "it's making things worse," and that "we need to call for police reform." Michigan Governor Whitmer called the president's remarks "dangerous" and said they should be "gravely concerning to all Americans," as they would "only lead to more violence and destruction." Governor of Massachusetts Baker, a Republican, said "At so many times during these past several weeks, when the country needed compassion and leadership the most, it was simply nowhere to be found." Washington Governor Inslee also rejected Trump's threat. Oregon Governor Brown said, "You don't defuse violence by putting soldiers on the streets." Nevada Governor Sisolak, in rejecting federal intervention said "As the Commander-in-Chief of the Nevada National Guard I can state, categorically, that they have done their duty to protect all Nevadans, and will continue to do so."

The governors are not rejecting use of force against the people's just demands; they are asserting their claim to authority in their states and demanding a limit to armed federal intervention. In fact, most had already acted to violently repress the resistance by calling out the National Guard at their disposal. California and Illinois were among the first to do so, as did Washington, Minnesota, and more than 30 states. Many were armed with automatic weapons, others were not. New York's Cuomo said he had 13,000 troops on standby.

Forces at the disposal of Governors include thousands of National Guard troops, as well as state troopers. In coordination with mayors, they dispose of huge militarized police forces. Large cities like New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles have virtually their own armies, with command centres, tanks, helicopters, grenade launchers, chemical weapons such as tear gas, heavily armed SWAT teams, special Emergency Response Teams for protests, and more. Trump's threat created a situation where the state National Guard and police would come in direct conflict with the federally mobilized troops -- something the rulers want to avoid and likely why Trump's threat remained just that. However the growing disunity and threat to the union these conflicts represent remains.

States like California and New York can easily become their own countries and indeed Cuomo regularly promotes New York as the Empire State. Regions like the Midwest and Northeast could too. As well, the claims by governors about reform, that "rhetoric" was inflaming matters, that federal troops would mean "more violence and destruction," while state and local forces somehow would not, certainly rang hollow given the repeated police violence in city after city, large and small. While these various authorities are in conflict with each other, they are all becoming more antagonistic than ever to the people, despite trying to appear to be on their side.

The existing authorities are unable to solve any problem and threaten more violence and destruction, both at home and abroad. Authority is in conflict with Conditions and blocking the advance of society, as evidenced in the violent repression of the broad resistance movement. This movement is finding a way forward and taking initiative to develop fundamental change, a democracy of the people's own making that empowers them to govern and decide.

For Your Information
Extracts of Military Times Article

Though defence officials have clarified that any troops will be on site as a show of presence and deterrence, rather than making arrests or deploying weapons against protesters, President Donald Trump's comments have raised alarms that the White House is politicizing the military by threatening to deploy service members to break up peaceful protests against what prosecutors have alleged was the murder of George Floyd on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer.

"I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law abiding Americans," Trump said June 1 at the White House, citing the Insurrection Act of 1807. "Today I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming presence until the violence is quelled."

To clarify, Trump had not mobilized federal and local resources nor invoked the Insurrection Act, as police forces and National Guard troops are operating under the orders of their mayors and governors.

The mission is not unlike the one some active duty and National Guard troops have been doing along the U.S.-Mexico border for nearly two years, assisting Customs and Border Patrol with surveillance and security, but not physically detaining anyone.

But the optics of the situation have quickly turned sour for many current service members, who shared their perspectives with Military Times. Of 33 responses from active-duty and reserve component troops reviewed before publication, 30 were opposed to the use of troops to respond to protests.

"Using the military to put down protests and supplement the botched efforts of the police to control these protests, particularly through unlawful uses of force, will only further inflame the protests," a National Guard noncommissioned officer said. "This is escalation, not de-escalation. Embroiling the military due to the inaction and failings of the police only serves to conflate the two, and would put both military members and civilians at greater risk. Cracking down with authoritarianism does nothing but further politicize the military and erode the trust the public has in us. There is no winning in this scenario." [...]

Aside from the message deploying active-duty troops might send, others questioned whether they are necessary.

"I don't think active-duty military deployments are necessary, especially in DC," an active-duty Army captain wrote. "I believe the president is deploying the military for political reasons and our reputation will be irreparably damaged by the association."

Specifically, Defense Secretary Mark Esper authorized an 82nd Airborne Division infantry battalion, the Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 16th Military Police Brigade's headquarters and the 91st Military Police Battalion from Fort Drum, New York, to mobilize to the DC area.

But on June 3 he clarified in a Pentagon briefing that he does not believe it's necessary to employ them in a law enforcement role.

"The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations," he said. "We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act." [...]

At the same time, those active-duty forces are awaiting instructions at bases in the DC area, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said June 2. Some service members are wrestling with the idea of doing their jobs, the Army captain said, if these are their orders.

"I oppose these missions, but if they are to happen, I want to be there to make sure they are done the right way, including providing medical care to those who need it and refusing to carry out unlawful or unethical orders," he said.

The deployments could also affect the public's view of the National Guard, he added, after all of the good will built up over the COVID-19 pandemic response, which at its height saw more than 45,000 guardsmen running testing sites, delivering food and otherwise acting in a humanitarian capacity.

"This also stands in sharp contrast to the president's response to the coronavirus pandemic, in which he eschewed the federal government taking an active role and pressed upon those same state governors to do things on their own because it wasn't the federal government's job," an active duty Navy chief wrote.

That kind of narrative could also trickle down in other ways, including the Guard's recruiting efforts. "She's worried that all the efforts they've made to make the guard diverse and inclusive are being eroded by asking soldiers to stand by cops," one reader wrote of his wife, a Guard recruiter in the South. "She has recruiting meetings with two people today. Both young black men. She has no idea what to tell them."

And as far as active-duty troops, some expressed concern about how they would handle themselves in a crowd control scenario.

"I'm totally against using our active duty military personnel for any type of riot control," an Army staff sergeant wrote. "My main reason is my troops are not trained in crowd control tactics, they are trained to meet and defeat with deadly force any enemy of the U.S. who is attacking us."

While the mobilized military police will be tasked with providing security, he had questions as to whether their combat training would sway their actions.

"My troops do not have the mind set to just allow someone to throw things at them, or assault them without them striking back using a medium of force that would be considered appropriate for that type of situation, especially if they had live rounds in their M-4s," he added. "Sorry to say but there would be some dead rioters/insurgents."

Beyond the movement of troops, some readers commented on the actions of the military's most senior leaders in the face of the White House's response to protests and riots.

"It's one thing to remain silent. It's a completely different situation when our Pentagon leadership takes part in the politicization of the military," an active-duty Navy judge advocate lieutenant wrote. "The teargassing of peaceful protesters on live TV and then the photo op by Trump [June 1] was a disgrace. The use of helicopters in Washington, DC, to intimidate protesters is shameful. [Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark] Milley's galavanting around DC is sad. Leaders need to be leaders. Take a stand. Resign. Do not let the military fall to Trump's demagoguery...."

[During] a White House call with governors Defense Secretary Esper compared U.S. cities to war zones.

"The statement by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper that we should 'dominate the battlespace' in American cities was appalling," a DC area-based Army reserve officer wrote. "Farragut Square is not Fallujah. The people peacefully protesting there yesterday were not combatants; they are our fellow Americans."

Voice of Revolution is a publication of the U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization.

(Photos: R. Pineda, A. Suttner, D. Geilgey)

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Statues and Symbols of Slavery, Genocide
and Racism Come Crashing Down

Statue of Confederate States Army Commander Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia.

In many places in the U.S., as well as in Canada and Europe, the ongoing protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd on May 26 are also giving expression to a vehement rejection of the glorification and exaltation of slavery, genocide and racism and the institutions, traditions, social relations and accumulation of wealth based on them. Statues, monuments and other symbols of slave traders, slave owners, advocates of slavery and racial segregation, as well as those responsible for the dispossession and genocide of the Indigenous peoples or promotion of racism are being torn down, defaced or, in some cases, pre-emptively removed by local authorities. Justice-loving people have fought for the removal of such symbols for decades. Today's actions express the determination of the people to bring an end to the social relations and institutions which harbour within them the promotion of enslavement and oppression of Blacks, Indigenous peoples and the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and racism today. Tearing down these symbols is an expression of their striving for empowerment, for equality and for a system which upholds the right to be and dignity of all.

United States

Protest in Asheville, North Carolina, June 21, 2020, demands removal of
Confederate monument in that city.
Thomas Jefferson statue set on fire in Birmingham, Alabama

The majority of statues and monuments being torn down in the U.S. at the present moment are those glorifying the Confederate side in the U.S. Civil War because they exalt those who promoted slavery and the dispossession and disenfranchisement of African Americans. More than 50 such statues and monuments have been torn down, defaced or pre-emptively removed by authorities since George Floyd was killed by the police on May 26.

This includes various statues of Robert E. Lee, a commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. Protesters removed the statue of Robert E. Lee at the high school that bears his name in Montgomery, Alabama on June 1. Alabama, along with some other southern states, has legislation in place which makes it an offence that carries a $25,000 penalty to remove Confederate memorials. However, in Birmingham, the city itself removed the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument that had become a converging point for the protests, saying the fine was less than the cost of the security the city had to provide to preserve the monument. Similarly, the Sons of Confederate Veterans removed a bust of Robert E. Lee in Fort Myers, Florida on June 1.

Confederate statues in Raleigh, North Carolina are removed on the Governor's orders after protesters toppled two such monuments.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, after two confederate monuments were toppled by protesters, on June 20, Governor Roy Cooper ordered that all Confederate monuments on the grounds of the state Capitol be removed, which he said he did "to protect public safety." He said, "I am concerned about the dangerous efforts to pull down and carry off large, heavy statues and the strong potential for violent clashes at the site."

"Monuments to white supremacy don't belong in places of allegiance, and it's past time that these painful memorials be moved in a legal, safe way," he said.

Albert Pike's statue in Washington, DC was toppled and burned by protestors on June 19. Pike was a brigadier-general in the Confederate Army as well as a prominent Freemason. Besides other things, in 1850 he organized the Know-Nothing Party, which campaigned on anti-immigration beliefs and emphasized the use of slaves as more "efficient than farm labour."

Statue of Albert Pike in Washington, DC  is overturned by protesters.

In Washington, DC (left) statue of U.S. President George Washington lies toppled; and (right) the pedestal is all that is left of a statue of Albert Pike.

In Washington, DC, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on June 11 ordered the removal of four portraits of Confederate slave owners from the gallery of the House.

Confederate monuments were in the main erected during the period of Jim Crow laws from about the 1870s up to the period of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, to buttress state-organized racism, dispossession and lynchings of African Americans.

Protesters have also singled out some of the so-called founding fathers, many of whom relied on the labour of enslaved peoples to enrich themselves. One is George Washington who is said to have "owned 317 slaves" on his estate at the time of his death in 1799. Protesters in Portland, Oregon toppled a statue of George Washington on June 18. His counterpart Thomas Jefferson is said to have "owned" more than 600 enslaved labourers throughout his life. A statue of Thomas Jefferson was pulled down at Thomas Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon on June 23. Officials at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York relocated a statue of Jefferson from outside the student centre to a museum.

Protesters in Portland, Oregon remove statues of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

Statues of Christopher Columbus have also been targeted, to highlight the enslavement of the Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and all countries of the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors, including the near genocide of the Taíno. The first was brought down in Richmond, Virginia on June 9. Another was toppled in Saint Paul, Minnesota on June 10. A third was decapitated in Boston on June 11, with the remainder removed by the city. Another 16 have either already been removed by municipal authorities or are pending removal.

Statue of Christopher Columbus thrown in the water in Richmond, Virginia.

Along similar lines, statues in New Mexico and California dedicated to those involved in the genocide and enslavement of Indigenous peoples in the Americas have been removed by protesters or local authorities, including monuments praising Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate and Catholic priest Junípero Serra y Ferrer.


In Canada, recent protests and petitions are calling for the removal of statues of the historical figures directly involved in the dispossession and acts of genocide against Indigenous peoples, as well as those involved in promoting slavery.

A petition started in early June titled "Remove white supremacist John A. Macdonald's Monument in Montréal" reads in part:

"We are calling to Montréal Mayor, Valérie Plante, as well as the city council to remove the monument of  'Canada's' first prime minister, John A. Macdonald. There is absolutely no reason or room for a racist, colonial, white nationalist to be celebrated on unceded Indigenous land. The very fact that this monument exists is an example of the white washing of cultural history, and true 'reconciliation' does not include the glorification of those that actively pursued Indigenous genocide.

"Some of Macdonald's lifelong projects include:

- Establishing the first residential school and creating the system in which over 130 more could be made.
- Openly promoting the preservation of a so-called 'Aryan' Canada.
- 1885 Electoral Franchise Act.
- Gradual Civilization of Indians Act.
- Chinese Exclusion Act and the Chinese Head Tax.
- Worked to ban the teaching of French in schools across numerous provinces.
- The death sentence of Metis leader, Louis Riel. 'Riel shall hang though every dog in Quebec bark in his favour.'"

As of June 25, more than 21,000 people have signed. The petition can be signed here

Statue of John A. Macdonald in
Charlottetown, PEI

Already in 2018, a statue of Macdonald was taken down in Victoria, BC. The artist who created it recently told CTV "he is ashamed to admit that he didn't know about residential schools until after he crafted the statue and now believes these monuments should also be taken down."

In Toronto, there is a call for Ryerson University to remove the statue of its founder Egerton Ryerson. A petition expressing this demand noted that Ryerson "aided the Canadian government in the creation of Residential Schools" and "opposed the education of women." The petition can be read in full and signed here.

Also in Toronto, there is a petition to rename Dundas Street, which honours the British Empire's representative Henry Dundas. The petition explains, "As the MP for Midlothian in Westminster and as Secretary of State he actively participated in obstructing the abolition of slavery in the British Empire from 1791 to the end of his political career in 1806. Slavery was eventually abolished in 1833 and officially in British North America in 1834. But Dundas' actions to preserve the profiteering of his friends in the slave trade cost tens of thousands of lives, if not more." That petition can be read in full and signed here

Recent removals of symbols glorifying those who committed acts of genocide against Indigenous peoples include the renaming of Amherst Street in Montreal to Atateken Street on National Indigenous Day (June 21) 2019, which realized a decades-long demand of local residents and businesses. British general Jeffrey Amherst is infamous for carrying out biological warfare against the Indigenous peoples by using blankets contaminated with smallpox. Atatekan is a Mohawk word meaning "Brothers and Sisters."

Statue of Cornwallis in Halifax is covered pending its removal, July 15, 2017.

In Halifax, in 2017 the statue of Edward Cornwallis was removed from the park also named after him. Cornwallis was the British Governor of Nova Scotia who is said to have founded Halifax. In 1749, Cornwallis put a bounty on the scalp of every Mi'kmaq man, woman and child in the province -- a move tantamount to genocide. This practice was also used against the Acadians between 1755 and 1763, during the British takeover of part of the former French colonies. The lands seized by the British had been settled by the Acadians when they arrived in 1604.

The proposal for the removal of Cornwallis' statue and to rename the park Halifax Peace and Freedom Park was first made on November 21, 2009 when some 200 people gathered at a rally there to oppose the inaugural meeting of the Halifax International Security Forum, the warmongering agency based in Washington, DC and funded by Canada's Department of National Defence and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. With Mi'kmaq approval, the activists covered the statue of Cornwallis and took the collective decision to rename the park as their very first act.

England and Scotland

A statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, England, is torn down June 7, 2020 by protesters
and thrown in the harbour.

In England, people have removed or are demanding the removal of statues of slave traders and notorious racists, symbols of the ruling elites' glorification of empire, racism and slavery.

Base of the statue of  Edward Colston in Bristol, after statue was torn down.

In Bristol on June 7, a statue of Edward Colston was torn down by protesters and thrown in the harbour. Colston was a notorious human trafficker in the late 17th century who was associated with Bristol, one of the main British ports connected with trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans. From 1680 onwards, Colston was chiefly connected with the London-based Royal African Company (RAC), which had a monopoly on Britain's slave trade in that period, transporting Africans to Britain's colonies in North America and the Caribbean. In 1689 he became deputy governor of the RAC. He was also involved in sugar production, another industry based on the labour of enslaved Africans. On the basis of his great wealth as well as a Tory MP he was associated with the Society of Merchant Venturers in Bristol, a monopoly that controlled local government and trade. The Society, with Colston's support, petitioned to end the royal monopoly on the trafficking of Africans, allowing the merchants of Bristol to engage in the trafficking of enslaved Africans, which the Society also controlled. He became a major benefactor to various schools and charities in Bristol to advance his own business interests, as opposed to those of the Crown.

Several Bristol schools have been named after Edward Colston as was until recently Colston Hall, a major concert venue. A statue was erected in his honour in 1895 with a plaque reading "Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city."

Protests about the statue have been ongoing for more than 20 years. In 2018 a second plaque was proposed which added:

"As a high official of the Royal African Company from 1680 to 1692, Edward Colston played an active role in the enslavement of over 84,000 Africans (including 12,000 children) of whom over 19,000 died en route to the Caribbean and America. Colston also invested in the Spanish slave trade and in slave-produced sugar. As Tory MP for Bristol (1710-1713), he defended the city's 'right' to trade in enslaved Africans. Bristolians who did not subscribe to his religious and political beliefs were not permitted to benefit from his charities."

There was opposition to this wording and after several other attempts no resolution was reached, until finally the statue has been brought down altogether.

Statue of Robert Milligan at West India Quay in the Docklands in London is pre-emptively removed by authorities, June 9, 2020.

In London, a statue of Robert Milligan at West India Quay in the Docklands was removed in a pre-emptive move by authorities on June 9. Erected in Milligan's honour following his death in 1809, there have long been demands for its removal. In early June, a petition from a local councillor to remove the statue received thousands of signatures. The Museum of London Docklands issued a statement prior to the statue's removal that said in part:

"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."

Milligan inherited sugar plantations in Jamaica and was the owner of over 500 enslaved Africans. He later led the consortia that built West India Dock in London to facilitate the import of slave-produced products from the Caribbean.

Also in London, a statement from Guy's and St. Thomas' Charity, Guy's and St. Thomas' National Health Service Foundation Trust and King's College London announced on June 11 that the figures depicting Robert Clayton and Thomas Guy will be taken out of public view. "Like many organizations in Britain, we know that we have a duty to address the legacy of colonialism, racism and slavery in our work. We absolutely recognize the public hurt and anger that is generated by the symbolism of public statues of historical figures associated with the slave trade in some way," the statement said.

Clayton, a former Lord Mayor of London, had ties to the Royal African Company while Guy invested in the South Sea Company, which was also involved in the slave trade of 4,800 adult men every year.

Another statue the public is demanding be removed is that of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University. Rhodes was an ardent advocate of British imperialism and the supremacy of the "Anglo-Saxon" race. A petition on has nearly 190,000 signatures calling on the university to remove the statue. The petition states in part:

"We believe that the colonialism, racism and patriarchy this statue is seeped in has no place in our university -- which for many of us is also our home. The removal of this statue would be a welcome first step in the University's attempt to redress the ways in which it has been an active beneficiary of empire. While it remains standing, the statue of Rhodes remains a celebration not just of the crimes of the man himself, but of the imperialist legacy on which Oxford University has thrived, and continues to thrive. While the statue remains standing, Oxford University continues to condone the persistent racism that shadows this institution."

The university has voted to remove it but has not said when. Students have sought to have the statue removed since at least 2015, taking up the Rhodes Must Fall campaign that began at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, which succeeded in having a statue of Rhodes removed.

A statue of a more recent figure, that of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Parliament Square in London, has been defaced during recent protests, with the slogan "Churchill was a racist" spray-painted across its base. There are numerous accounts of his racist outlook directed against East Asians, South Asians and Black people, and his belief in white supremacy, as part of his ardent British imperialist outlook. The statue has now been boarded up to prevent further vandalism.

In Edinburgh, Scotland, as in Toronto, protesters are calling to end the glorification of Henry Dundas. Reporting on the ongoing protests for the removal of his statue, 570 News notes, "The late 18th-century Scottish politician was responsible for delaying Britain's abolition of the slave trade by 15 years until 1807. During that time, more than half a million enslaved Africans were trafficked across the Atlantic." In an attempt to avoid the inevitable, the City of Edinburgh has responded with a plan to leave the statue in place, atop a high column, with signage to explain that he was "instrumental in deferring the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade."


Damaged statue of King Leopold II in Antwerp removed by authorities June 9, 2020.

There are many statues across Belgium to honour King Leopold II "of the Belgians," who plundered the Congo Free State and carried out atrocities and crimes against the people including mass murder, mass mutilation, forced labour on pain of death, rape, assassinations and more, besides expropriating Congo's wealth, especially for the production of rubber, in the period of 1885-1908.

The statues aim to sanitize and glorify Belgium's and King Leopold II's crimes in the Congo. They have been desecrated on an ongoing basis in recent years, especially since the killing of George Floyd. In Antwerp, authorities removed a statue of King Leopold II on June 9 after it sustained serious damage during protests.

(Photos: TML, Shara, M. Edwards, B. Karp, China Daily, G. Davis, S. Villiani, J. Lefty, J. Morris, T. Roache, N. Khawaji, B.J. Sky, J. Biggs, C. Onyango-Obbo)

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Signs of Change in Ireland

Citizen's committees are removing or renaming British imperialist figures and institutions in Ireland as part of the movement for empowerment and against British colonialism.

Streets surrounding Belfast City Hall including May Street and Donegall Square were renamed after three Irish patriots, the hunger strikers -- Joe McDonnell, Bobby Sands and Kieran Doherty -- who laid down their lives inside the H-blocks of Long Kesh internment camp in 1981 for the rights of political prisoners and the cause of Irish freedom. Another street honours James Connolly, the Communist leader at the centre of the 1916 Rising for independence. Queen's University was renamed "Mairéad Farrell University Belfast" with signage erected across its prominent front gates after the former student and IRA volunteer, killed in Gibraltar on active service in 1988. The names also serve as an important reminder of the ruthless brutality of the British government in Ireland under the leadership of then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

For years there has been sharp criticism of the way the colonial period is remembered in the Republic of Ireland. Some statues have been removed officially and others "unofficially." One such case was the statue of Horatio Nelson, built in the centre of what was then Sackville Street (later renamed O'Connell Street) in Dublin, Ireland. Erected in 1809 when Ireland was forced to be part of the United Kingdom, it survived for more than 40 years until March 1966. It was frequently pointed out that a statue to the British admiral had no place in Dublin after Irish independence was achieved and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921 which divided the island. After years of inconclusive discussion the issue was dealt with when the statue was finally toppled with gelignite, as was that of a large statue of George II and his horse brought to ground at Stephen's Green in 1937. Nelson's remnants were later destroyed by the Irish Army but its head is preserved in a museum.

Recently campaigns have been underway in Ireland, like that in Cork, to remove the name Queen Victoria, known as the "Famine Queen," from street signs. That her main statue at Leinster House in Dublin survived until 1948 (26 years after the creation of the Free State) is something of a miracle. She was monarch when Ireland was beset by a famine organized by filthy rich landowners and millions starved or emigrated. After gathering dust in Ireland for some years, Victoria got a trip to Sydney, Australia to be "planted" outside the Queen Victoria Building despite some bids from Canadian buyers. Writing in the Irish Times the following month, Myles na gCopaleen (Brian O'Nolan/Flann O'Brien) was not overly bothered with its removal -- her statutes were more harmful than her statues, as he put it. "Besides, look at it this way," he wrote. "Time has given the mere Irish their revenge. The fact is that Victoria has turned green. Of hue she approaches our decent Irish letterbox. And it is the price of her."

In Belfast, the spokesperson for the current committee changing street and place signs in Belfast, Pól Torbóid, said their list of place names from across the city featured "prominent individuals responsible for historic abuses in Ireland."

"Belfast's streets, littered with the poverty of its people, its homeless and jobless; are also littered with the names of those whose attitude to Ireland was one of subjugation, and who, by force of arms, forced a political and economic system upon our people, which became the foundation for partition, and for the current economic struggles faced by the Irish people, Torbóid said.

"These street names, monuments to those who delivered misery across our nation in one form or another, also serve as monuments to the political and economic system that they helped to build in Ireland.

"These street names, the symbols of oppression, hate and servitude, must be stripped away. "They must be replaced with the names of those who sought to build a better Ireland, the names of those who fought against oppression, against hate and against servitude."

"They must be replaced with the names of heroes: of normal people. Not lords. Not kings or queens; but rather those who weren't the heirs to vast riches.

"Those whose only inheritance was that which they tried to carve out of a political system that railed against them.

"It is our inheritance as Republicans to end the oppression immortalized in these street names and statues.

"It is our duty to end colonialism, to end the normalization of imperialism and, consequently, the political and economic system that maintains it."

May 15, 1937, a statue of King George II lies destroyed  in Stephen's Green. Inset photo shows statue as it previously stood.

Statue of Nelson (left) in Dublin was blown off its pillar in 1966; statue of Queen Victoria (right) is removed from Leinster House in 1948.

(With files from Irish Republican News, Irish Times and the Celtic League. Photos: Lasair Dhearg)

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Bank of England's Attempt to Whitewash
Its History and Present Role

On June 19, in the wake of the global upsurge following the killing of African American George Floyd, and protests in Britain about the glorification of slavery and empire, the Bank of England issued a statement "about its historical links to the slave trade."

According to the Bank of England: "There can be no doubt that the eighteenth and nineteenth century slave trade was an unacceptable part of English history. As an institution, the Bank of England was never itself directly involved in the slave trade, but is aware of some inexcusable connections involving former Governors and Directors and apologizes for them. The Bank has commenced a thorough review of its collection of images of former Governors and Directors to ensure none with any such involvement in the slave trade remain on display anywhere in the Bank. The Bank is committed to improving diversity and is actively engaging with staff, particularly with our BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] colleagues, to help us identify and shape concrete steps that can be taken now to progress the Bank's efforts to be as inclusive as possible."

It would be difficult to compose a statement that more blatantly falsifies history, or one that is more at variance with the demands now being made by the people of Britain.

The Bank of England was incorporated in 1694 alongside the National Debt, originally a loan of £1.2m, both of which were necessary for the government of the day to pursue two major wars -- the War of the League of Augsburg (1689-1697) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1713). In return for the loan, at a rate of 8 per cent interest, the money lenders were allowed a monopoly on the issue of banknotes and effectively became the state bank. The creation of the Bank of England and the National Debt led to a tremendous growth of banking, credit, the City of London, the Stock Exchange, and all the main financial institutions of the capital-centred economic system that still exist today. In addition, they contributed to the modern system of taxation, in order to transfer wealth from the working people to the moneylenders and speculators who greatly profited from the wars.

The War of the Spanish Succession ended with the Treaty of Utrecht by which, amongst other things, the British government gained the asiento -- the right to supply Spanish colonies on the American continent with enslaved Africans. Britain already possessed colonies in North America and the Caribbean in which thousands of enslaved Africans were exploited, but acquiring the asiento led to Britain becoming the world's leading trafficker of enslaved African men, women and children throughout the 18th century.

No doubt the present Bank of England wants to distance itself from the most notorious criminals amongst its former governors, such as Humphrey Morice, who has been referred to as "the prince of London slave traders" during the 1720s. However, the Bank of England's entire history is inseparable from Britain's involvement in human trafficking and slavery, wars and empire, just as it is inseparable from the exploitation of the working people in Britain and the entire capital-centred system. The capital-centred system and all its financial institutions can therefore be held responsible for profiting from the trafficking of enslaved Africans, colonial conquests and empire.

In 1833, when the government of the day was compelled to abolish slavery throughout the British Empire, the major slaveowners were compensated with the award of £20m. As is well-known, neither those who were enslaved, nor the societies where they were enslaved or from where they were kidnapped, have ever been compensated, nor granted any reparatory justice. In 1833, £20m was equivalent to 40 per cent of total annual government expenditure, and was added to the National Debt in the form of a government bond or gilt, which pays interest to the holder, normally the major financial institutions or their investors. The gilts in question were not redeemed until 2015, meaning that it was a burden on the taxpayer until that time, as well as a means of speculation and profit.

Slavery and empire were indispensable in and integral to the emergence of the capital-centred system in Britain and throughout the world. Racism was and is the world view of the slave traders, financial oligarchs and all those who defend the capital-centred system. It is not just the statues of the criminals of the past that must be torn down in order to end racism and empower the people but the entire capital-centred system. The old authority must fall.

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Protests Against Racism, Police Brutality,
Killings and Impunity Continue

Rally in Frankfort Kentucky, June 25, 2020.

June 26 marks one month since the brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Militant actions by Blacks, working people, youth and people from all walks of life in the U.S. and around the world continue demanding that militarized policing, brutality, killings and impunity be ended. The people are also demanding profound changes to bring this state of affairs to an end.

On June 12 in Atlanta, Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old African American man, was fatally shot by Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe. Brooks had fallen asleep in his car and was blocking a restaurant's drive-through lane. The police allege a breathalyzer exam indicated Brooks' blood-alcohol content was above the legal limit for driving and that this in turn permitted them to handcuff him. Whatever happened in the scuffle that ensued which involved Brooks seizing and firing one of the police officers' tasers, what is certain is that, in the end, Rolfe shot Brooks twice from behind and Brooks died after surgery.

Both officers were initially removed from duty after the shooting. On June 14, Rolfe was fired and the second officer involved -- named Brosnan -- was placed on administrative duty. On June 17, the Fulton County District Attorney announced 11 charges against Rolfe: felony murder, five counts of aggravated assault, four police oath violations, and damage to property. He said Rolfe should have been aware that the taser Brooks had taken posed no danger, as after being fired twice it could not fire again; that the officers did not provide timely medical aid to Brooks after he was shot, and that before providing aid, Rolfe kicked him and Brosnan stood on his shoulders. He also indicated that it was a violation of department policy for Rolfe to begin handcuffing Brooks before telling him he was being arrested. Police Chief Erika Shields resigned on June 13 in relation to the shooting, while Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has called for a review of the use of force policy. On June 16, many police officers called in sick, to protest their fellow officers being held to account for the killing of Rayshard Brooks.

The Mayor said she would direct city funds away from the police department and toward community programs. However, the city budget was approved on June 22 with no such changes, as city councillors cited promised raises and job security for police officers.

In Wilmington, North Carolina, three police officers were fired on June 24 after a routine review of police footage showed them making racist remarks against African Americans, with one calling for a "civil war" against Black people.

In Louisville, Kentucky, on June 1 David McAtee, who ran a barbeque cart, held a social gathering which was attacked by police. Initial reports indicate that Louisville police aggressively fired pepper balls at the crowd at head level, prompting McAtee to fire his gun in the air as a warning shot. He was then killed by National Guard at the scene. McAtee's mother later told reporters that her son was known by the police and the community, and that he had fed all the policemen and would join them for discussions while they ate.

Another recent incident of police abuse took place at a Black Lives Matter protest in Miami on June 10, where Alaa Massri was unlawfully arrested, and then had her rights further violated while in detention. A petition in support of Massri points out, "After witnessing an individual being hit with a police vehicle, Alaa Massri saw another vehicle approaching a small group of protesters. Being the team's medic, she rushed to go aid whomever might have been injured but was stopped by 6-8 cops in riot gear. After repeatedly asking the police officers (Officer Corral, #41643) not to touch her, in a polite yet concerned manner, Ms. Massri attempted to walk away. Instead, she was surrounded and arrested. Alaa was then zip-tied and later charged with battery, resisting an officer with violence, and disorderly conduct. Witnesses observed that she was not acting in a disorderly fashion and was simply coming to the aid of an injured individual." Massri later had her hijab forcefully removed, following which her mugshot was taken and then disseminated to media. Massri was forced to remain without her head scarf for the remainder of her seven hours in detention. Similar incidents which violate the right to protest, Miranda rights (she was not read her rights when arrested) and most significantly her right to conscience through forcible removal of her hijab have been prosecuted in various U.S. cities and authorities have had to pay victims of their racist treatment substantial fines.

In the case of Breonna Taylor, killed in her home on March 13 by Louisville police serving a no-knock warrant, the mass protests decrying policy brutality and impunity have led two months later to the three officers involved in the shooting being placed on administrative leave. On June 23, one officer was fired for violating policies on the use of deadly force. Protesters continue to demand that the three officers be criminally charged and arrested for her killing.

The two vigilantes who killed Ahmaud Arbery on February 23 in Glynn County, Georgia, were finally indicted by a grand jury on charges, including malice and felony murder on June 24.

(Photos: K.M. Mink, L. Sanchez)

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