Remove the Robert Peel Statue from Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester #BLM #RepealPeel
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I am starting this petition and the #RepealPeel movement to highlight the endemic racism that continues to plague Manchester and the fact that this city was built on slavery. I recognise and remember the often-ignored black victims of Manchester’s involvement in the slave trade and the plantation economy to accumulate its obscene wealth, historic cultural institutions and powerful centres of knowledge. The Peels, the Gregs and the Hibberts are some of the names that loom large. Instead, we must provide a platform for the names of the voiceless and unheard, those who couldn’t breathe while crammed into a slave ship in 1720 and those who can’t breathe right now in police custody, today, in 2020. Manchester’s history isn’t just history, Peel Street and Sugar Lane may no longer exist but the racism and inequality that they created and represent does. As a society, we have a duty to question police brutality and a moral obligation to consider why there is a statue dedicated to Robert Peel in the centre of our city. Black Lives Matter.
We romanticise the history of this city — Cottonopolis — its industrialisation, the Free Trade Movement, the Chartists and the Peterloo Massacre — but really, we romanticise its racism and hate. These are the real legacies of capitalism and slavery. We have to challenge and tear down the legacies of slavery, oppression and brutality that still exists in Manchester. We are trying to draw attention to the fact that black people are more likely to be arrested, subjected to use of force – and that black people in greater Manchester are ten times more likely to be tasered. Black Lives Matter.
The aim is to help bring down the statue of Robert Peel Junior, who created the modern police force in 1829, his father was actively proslavery and circulated a proslavery petition in 1806, a mere year before the abolition of the slave trade. In a speech to Parliament in 1794, he warned of the dangerous consequences that would envelop the colonies because of abolitionism, inferring that Africans were content being slaves:
“A greater degree of freedom, so far from increasing their happiness, would add to their infelicity. Human nature was so framed, that it stood in need of being first enlightened before it was capable of the benefits of freedom, and until then it was incapable of a rational liberty. Should he put a sword into a madman’s hand? In their condition they were happy, and the very exalted ideas we possessed of freedom had the effect to mislead us in our ideas of the situation of this race of people.” Black Lives Matter.
This just tells you what kind of people both Peels were when the majority of the city supported abolition, they both saw emancipation as dangerous, we don’t have to intellectually pretzel ourselves to recognise the connections between the legacies of slavery, policing and racialised brutality. We have to defund Greater Manchester Police and get rid of that Robert Peel statue. I call on those with the power, all free people to remove this icon of hate and racism. Mayor Andy Burnham and Manchester City Council heed our calls, follow our lead, and act now. Black Lives Matter.
Remove this statue and give the space to Black artists and creators so we can collectively hear their pain and listen to their voices. Black Lives Matter.
We must draw attention to the academic institutions and cultural institutions in our region. Where are the black professors and lecturers, the black graduate students, the black archivists and black museum workers and where is the focus on Manchester’s involvement in slavery in any of the modules these universities teach and why do they not want those same institutions not want to engage in the debate. Where are the black historians? Many of these institutions were built with money accrued during the slave trade and slavery. Why won’t Quarry Bank Mill tell us the name of the slaves that Samuel Greg Owned? Every time I signed in as a researcher-in-residence, I had to sign my name. Why is my name more important than theirs? What were their names? Why can’t we talk honestly about Samuel Greg? Black Lives Matter.
How many slaves were killed by brutal overseers in 1819? @QuarryBankNT — Look at their twitter page and see for yourself. Black Lives Matter.
We need to see real change beyond tweeting out statements. The history of Manchester never happened without the history of the British West Indies. The police violence would never have happened if this history never happened. Black Lives Matter.
Let’s end the hate, take our streets back and #RepealPeel
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