The statue of King Leopold II of Belgium who murdered millions of Africans in the Congo was vandalized by anti-racism protesters in Antwerp on Tuesday.
Leopold’s genocide was committed in the Belgian Congo, his personal property from 1885 to 1908, where he subjected the people there to forced labor while he exploited the country’s rubber reserves.
Millions of people died. But despite his atrocities and mass murders, his statue remained a prominent and towering figure in Belgium where he was celebrated.
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Since an unarmed black man named George Floyd was killed by a white cop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, protests have spread around the world with calls to end racism and bring down statues of those who perpetrated great evil against black people around the world.
The Antwerp statue is just the latest symbol of racism to be targeted amid global Black Lives Matter protests.
A spokesman for Antwerp mayor Bart de Wever said the city’s statue was “seriously vandalised last week” and “needs to be restored” by a sculpture museum.
“Because of the renovation work planned for 2023 in the square in which it was placed, the statue will not be replaced. It will probably become part of the museum collection,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Middelheim Museum was quoted as confirming that they had received the statue, adding that they would restore it before deciding what to do with it.
Reports said there are also separate calls to take down Leopold monuments in Brussels, where one of his busts was covered in red paint last week, according to Daily Mail.