Updated: August 30, 2020 8:12:33 pm
A group of anti-racism protestors in Canada’s Montreal Saturday tore down a statue of the country’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald, who was known for imposing discriminatory policies that led to the mistreatment and death of indigenous people in the 19th century.
Videos shared widely on social media show protesters climbing atop the over 100-year-old monument and tying ropes around MacDonald’s statue, before pulling it down. The statue’s head falls off in the process, landing on the pavement nearby, BBC reported. The demonstrators, who had gathered to call for the defunding of the police, can be heard cheering in the background.
— Nore (@noreornot) August 29, 2020
Amidst a wave of worldwide anti-racism protests, activists in Canada too have been organising demonstrations and marches against systemic racism and injustice. The incident involving the statue took place at one such march in Montreal, which was led by a coalition of black and indigenous activists, according to Canadian broadcaster CBC.
While no arrests have been made so far, the leader of Quebec — the Canadian province where Montreal is located — condemned the act earlier today.
“Whatever one might think of John A. MacDonald, destroying a monument in this way is unacceptable. We must fight racism, but destroying parts of our history is not the solution. Vandalism has no place in our democracy and the statue must be restored,” Quebec Premier François Legault tweeted.
Quoique l’on puisse penser de John A. MacDonald, détruire un monument ainsi est inacceptable.
Il faut combattre le racisme, mais saccager des pans de notre histoire n’est pas la solution.
Le vandalisme n’a pas sa place dans notre démocratie et la statue doit être restaurée.
— François Legault (@francoislegault) August 29, 2020
MacDonald served as Prime Minister of Canada for 19 years between 1867 and 1891. During his time in office, he introduced a number of oppressive policies, which adversely impacted the lives of indigenous communities in the country.
While he laid the foundation on which modern Canada was built, he is also known for creating the residential school system — where the children of indigenous people were forcefully separated from their parents and sent to boarding schools. Here they faced rampant abuse and were not allowed to speak their own languages or bear any signs of their indigenous culture.
MacDonald has also been accused of spearheading a campaign aimed at claiming territories occupied by these communities by forcefully starving them.
A leaflet distributed at the Montreal anti-racism protest described him as: “a white supremacist who orchestrated the genocide of Indigenous peoples with the creation of the brutal residential schools system,” BBC reported.
It further claimed that the city’s mayor Valérie Plante had failed to act on a petition demanding the removal of the statue, which is why they had taken the matter “into their own hands”.
Over the past few months, demonstrators across the world have been pulling down and defacing statues of prominent world leaders, who were known to be racist in their operations.