International protesters in solidarity with George Floyd are forming Black Lives Matter movements to address the colonial heritage of their own countries. In Bristol, UK, protesters tore down & dumped the statue of a trafficker in the Atlantic slave trade. In cities across Belgium, including Brussels, Ghent, & Antwerp, protesters are defacing & torching monuments to King Leopold II who ruled Belgium from 1865 to 1909 & oversaw the colonization of Congo. He is called the ‘monster of the Congo’ because he is responsible for the murder, mutilation, & heinous crimes against up to 15 million Congolese. The 1994 Rwandan genocide where at least a million lost their lives has political roots in the policies of Belgian colonialism.
In Brussels, they climbed onto his statue chanting ‘murderer’ & waving the flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Ghent & Antwerp, they defaced a statue of him with red paint & the inscription, “I can’t breath.” Many Belgians have long worked unsuccessfully to get his monuments removed. An online petition his garnering signatures at the rate of 10,000 a day. In the long run this movement will succeed & will replace the statues of the monster colonizer with monuments to Patrice Lumumba who helped lead Congo to independence from Belgium in 1960 & died before a firing squad in 1961 with all evidence pointing to the Belgian government. Lumumba once said, “The day will come when history will speak… Africa will write its own history…it will be a history of glory & dignity.”
These international actions resonate with Black activists & their supporters in the US tearing down statues of Confederate generals in Florida, Virginia, & elsewhere.
This statue of Leopold the monster is in Antwerp after it was set on fire & splashed with pain (June 4th).
(Photo by Jonas Roosens/Belga/AFP via Getty Images)