Remove the Statue of Robert Peel in Leeds
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This is a petition to urge Leeds City Council to remove the statue of 19th century Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel.
The Black Lives Matter demonstrations taking place around the country have highlighted the history of slavery, racism and colonialism in Britain. The removal of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol has led to a long overdue discussion around our cities’ monuments and the ways in which they glorify this shameful history.
One such monument exists in Leeds’ Woodhouse Moor where Robert Peel’s statue resides. It was Peel’s father* - also Politician Robert Peel - who raised a petition against the Foreign Slave Trade Abolition Bill on the basis that it threatened the cotton industry. Peel created the London Metropolitan Police in 1829, the ideas for which he developed while overseeing the British colonial occupation of Ireland. He was pivotal in setting up the police forces which maintained British rule in Ireland and a system which led to the poverty, famine and displacement of Irish people. Colonialism and racism - in this case anti-catholic sentiment - are central to British history. Not only that but with the legitimacy of current policing in question, the history of policing, its origins in colonialism and its role in suppressing dissent deserves greater scrutiny.
Monuments and statues are celebrations of history. We should not celebrate colonisers. Peel’s statue belongs in a Museum, as part of an exhibition for others to learn about the history of British colonialism. Statues such as these only serve to erase this history and the stories of colonised people.
*This petition has been amended to correct previous inaccuracy
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