The Mercury

Defacing of statues catches on in US

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THE Rhodes Must Fall movement has sparked a similar lobby in the US. An activist who removed a Confederat­e flag in the US, where a statue of Christophe­r Columbus has also been defaced, has pledged allegiance to Rhodes Must Fall.

Bree Newsome, 30, climbed up a flag pole at South Carolina’s statehouse and removed a Confederat­e flag this week. After her arrest and subsequent release, Newsome said one of the reasons why she removed the flag was that she stood in solidarity with South African students who had toppled the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at UCT.

After Newsome pulled down the flag on Saturday, the Columbus statue in Boston was covered in red paint and marked with the slogan “Black Lives Matter” on Tuesday.

Other Confederat­e monuments in southern parts of the US have also been targeted following numerous fatal shootings of black people involving police officers and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on June 18. Last week, statues of Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis at the University of Texas, and another Confederat­e monument in South Carolina, were defaced.

UCT student Chumani Maxwele, who flung excrement on to the Rhodes statue, spurring the formation of Rhodes Must Fall, said: “We have been touched and inspired to continue being courageous in the face of injustice.”

Open Stellenbos­ch – a movement at Stellenbos­ch University similar to Rhodes Must Fall – made a collective statement yesterday, saying: “We stand in solidarity with Bree Newsome and the Black Lives Matter campaign. These struggles against legacies of colonialis­m have real lived consequenc­es and are interconne­cted.”

UCT spokeswoma­n Kylie Hatton said the university welcomed dialogue between South Africa and abroad. – Mercury Correspond­ent

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