Statues of Mandela, Churchill trashed
Marauding students daub ‘common gangster, traitor, killer’ near former PM’s statue
LONDON: Wreckage, shattered glass and debris littered London’s Parliament Square yesterday after student protests descended into a violent rampage that included graffiti being daubed on the plinth of a statue of South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela.
Tourists coming to see the heart of Britain’s democracy were instead taking pictures of the damage, and the sight of statues of world leaders daubed with obscene graffiti following Thursday’s demo over a hike in university tuition fees.
Workmen were busy cleaning up after the onslaught, measuring the smashed windows, cleaning the red telephone boxes and surveying the sculptures of statesmen like Winston Churchill, Mandela and Abraham Lincoln.
The iconic statue of World War II British prime minister Churchill, daubed with offensive slogans by demonstrators, stood behind a pile of twisted metal fencing.
On the ground read the message scrawled in paint: “Churchill, common gangster, traitor, killer”.
The square’s newest statue, of former South African president Mandela, had graffiti on the plinth and a rag tied around the neck.
Former US president Lincoln’s statue had an anarchy symbol sprayed on it; that of 19th century prime minister Lord Henry Palmerston held a placard and was daubed with “General Strike”.
Homophobic slurs against British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg were also evident among the graffiti.
Another proclaimed, “First Greece, then Paris, now London! Insurrection!”
At Westminster Abbey, where monarchs have been crowned since 1066, and where Prince William will marry Kate Middleton in April, wrecked sections of metal fencing lay in the grounds.
Members of the far-right English Defence League organ- isation had tur ned up to attempt to clean up the mess around the Churchill statue – at their own initiative.
One EDL activist, who did not give his name, was on his hands and knees with a brush and some turpentine scrubbing away at the graffiti.
“Churchill’s a legend. It’s disgusting,” he said.
“He is the best of Britain. This is an insult to our country.
“They (the protesters) are fools. If they’re complaining about tuition fees, they should spend that money on getting some history lessons.”
Elsewhere, the Supreme Court’s front windows were smashed in, a tangle of twisted lead and shattered glass after a thug attacked them with a spade as the riots raged hours after MPs voted to approve the rise in fees.
Yesterday workers measured the Treasury’s broken windows and began covering them with plywood boards.
Much of the graffiti had been hosed off the historic building, while the souther n doors were still daubed with white paint, the wood chipped and scratched.
Below, the three red telephone boxes, familiar from countless tourist photographs with parliament’s f amous clock tower in the background, were a desolate scene, having had all their windows smashed.
At the foot of Mandela’s statue, a group of fine art students f rom Kingston University in south-west London were preparing to stage an alter native cleaningup perfor mance to protest against the fees hike.
Armed with brooms, they said they planned to write messages in the debris.
Student Georgina Brinkman, 18, said: “We are the ones who are going to have to clean up this mess in the end.” – Sapa-AFP
ANGER: Standing on the plinth of a statue of wartime leader Winston Churchill, British students protest in central London.
OUTRAGE: Hundreds of protesters clash with police in front of the British parliament.
PAINFUL CLASH: A demonstrator is carried away by medics during the protest in Westminster.