Another Statue of a European Slaver Has Been Toppled

A statue of King Leopold II in Antwerp has been taken down by Belgian authorities.
June 9, 2020, 12:40pm
King Leopold statue Belgium taken down
Screenshots via Twitter

Another statue of a European slaver has been toppled – this time in Belgium.

Two days after UK Black Lives Matter protesters felled the statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston, authorities in Antwerp have decided to take down the statue of King Leopold II that stands in Ekeren district.

A video posted on Tuesday by Euronews correspondent Jack Parrock shows the defaced statue being removed by a crane.

Leopold II is remembered as one of history's mass murderers and the great tyrant of the Congo Free State, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. He ruled an area 76 times the size of Belgium through fear and terror. Villages were burnt down and Congolese locals were enslaved to work on his plantations, their hands chopped off if they failed to meet quotas.

Statues of Leopold II were erected all over Belgium and have been at the centre of fierce debate. Calls to take down the statues have only grown louder as anti-racism protests in the US spread across Europe. At least three Leopold II statues were defaced over the weekend. The now-removed Antwerp statue was smeared with red paint last week and set on fire a few days later, while a petition to remove all the statues has attracted 64,000 signatures.

The Brussels Times reports that the statue was scheduled to be removed ahead of renovations to the area in 2023, but it is now unclear if it will be returned to the site.