'BLM-related inquiry' says statue of Cecil Rhodes SHOULD be removed

Will Cecil Rhodes fall? Inquiry set up in wake of BLM protests says statue of British colonialist at Oxford’s Oriel College SHOULD be removed – but final decision rests with university’s governing body

  • It needs to be taken down along with a plaque to the colonialist, the inquiry said
  • It said Oriel should fund fellowships in subjects related to Cecil Rhodes’ legacy
  • But the commission is only advisory and the college’s governing body will decide
  • Robert Poll from Save Our Statues said that he was ‘saddened but not surprised’

A statue to Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University should be torn down, an independent inquiry has said.

The monument, which was the target of BLM protests last year, needs to be removed along with a plaque to the colonialist in the city, the commission found.

It said Oriel College could fund two fellowships in subjects related to Rhodes’ legacy, create scholarships for students from Africa and hold an annual lecture on him.

But the commission is only advisory and the college’s governing body will decide whether its views should be acted on.

Robert Poll from Save Our Statues told MailOnline he was ‘saddened but not surprised’ by the verdict, adding it was a ‘foregone conclusion from the start’.

The monument, which was the target of BLM protests last year, needs to be taken down along with a plaque to the colonialist in the city, the commission claimed

The inquiry was launched by Oriel last June as the Black Lives Matter movement picked up steam.

Its findings were expected in January but have faced delays due to the Covid pandemic and the huge number of submissions to the commission.

The Guardian reports that the inquiry has said the statue should be ripped from the wall and a King Edward Street plaque should be taken away.

It wants Oriel’s governing body to issue a statement sharing the college’s view on its relationship with Rhodes.

The newspaper reported college material should be rewritten to match its thoughts towards the mining magnate.

A further recommendation by the commission was for Oriel to fund two fellowships in courses on Rhodes’ legacy.

The inquiry said Oriel College could fund two fellowships in subjects related to Rhodes’ legacy, create scholarships for students from Africa and hold an annual lecture on him

And it wants the college to open scholarships for people from southern Africa and bring in an annual warts and all lecture on Rhodes.

Robert Poll from Save Our Statues said: ‘I am saddened but not surprised to hear the verdict of the Commission, which was a foregone conclusion from the start.

‘We must stop sitting in judgement of the past and trying to assert a moral authority over history.

‘This statue simply recognises the generosity of Rhodes, as the words beneath it attest, and which it is right that both the College and the University remember. The building wouldn’t be there without Rhodes.

‘A quarter of all applicants to Oriel College are from ethnic minority backgrounds, which is the same as the Oxford University average, so to claim the statue is discouraging BAME applicants simply isn’t true.

‘Controversial political actions like removing statues only serve to increase tensions and sow division.’

Robert Poll from Save Our Statues said: ‘I am saddened but not surprised to hear the verdict of the Commission, which was a foregone conclusion from the start,’ Pictured: A protest in Oxford last June

The commission was set up last June when the statue debate reemerge during the BLM protests that ripped across Britain and the US.

Oriel had previously chosen to keep the statue in 2016 after a consultation even though activists continued to protest.

But in 2020 a majority of students called for it to be taken down due to Rhodes’ colonial links.

Yet they cannot declare victory just yet as the commission’s findings are only advisory and the governing body makes the final call.

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