Stat­ues of Man­dela, Churchill trashed

Ma­raud­ing stu­dents daub ‘com­mon gang­ster, traitor, killer’ near for­mer PM’s statue

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

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

PIC­TURE: AP

ANGER: Stand­ing on the plinth of a statue of wartime leader Win­ston Churchill, Bri­tish stu­dents protest in cen­tral London.

PIC­TURES: REUTERS

OU­TRAGE: Hun­dreds of pro­test­ers clash with po­lice in front of the Bri­tish par­lia­ment.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

PAINFUL CLASH: A demonstrator is car­ried away by medics dur­ing the protest in West­min­ster.

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