Bajan Youth in Forefront at Bridgetown Protest
Scores rally in Heroes Square calling for removal of Nelson Statue
Anesta HenryPublished on
June 20, 2020
Most of those who gathered in Heroes Square, The City today advocating for the removal of the Nelson Statue from that location were young people.
The youth carried their placards with messages expressing how they feel about the issue, vocally expressed outrage at the presence of the statue in The City, and even delivered passionate speeches.
They demanded that the statue be removed now. A few even suggested that the people of Barbados join hands to physically pull it down themselves.
Lord Nelson is not our hero, one placard read.
Chairperson of the Caribbean Regional Youth Council, Roshanna Trim lamented that no man who said “he would rather die before he saw us free” should be glorified in Bridgetown.
Trim made it clear that no man that thought it was acceptable for people to be used as property to propel economies should stand in the centre of Bridgetown in 2020.
“When I come to Bridgetown I want to see things that recognise who I am. I want to see my identity glorified. I want to see the people who have fought and who have stood up for persons like me, for Barbadians in general, in Heroes Square. My children and my grandchildren, our grandchildren, should see something that they can identify with.
“In this moment it is not about whose lives matter most, it is not about us saying that we will take away any rights of anybody else. We are saying that in a society where there have been tears and a hierarchy as it relates to race, in this moment we will stand for it no more. Nelson must come down, whether he comes down because the Government moves him or Bajans decide to move him at this moment,” Trim said to a rousing round of applause.
Former journalist Alex Downes who was motivated to start an online petition to call for the removal of the statue after watching the highly publicized death of American, George Floyd, reported to the gathering that he was pleased that the petition has thus far received more than 10 000 signatures.
The young man said he was also pleased that people are talking and agitating for change to end the struggle, which came about as a result of oppression.
“This is a collective movement and if we keep it up I know we [will] see change,” Downes said.
According to historian Trevor Marshall, he was happy to see the number of young people who turned out to lend their support to what he described as the worthy cause of calling for the statue to be removed from where it does not belong.
“It is up to the millennial. I am extremely pleased to see the amount of young people here. I am seeing a rainbow collection of whites, blacks, and Indians here and they are all motivated by the urge for social justice because the statue represents the worst possible oppression. What we have tried today is to show through logic and through basic historical facts that Nelson never defended Barbados,” Marshall said.
Marshall argued that Nelson’s contribution to Barbados was modest.
“The only thing that Horatio Nelson did to, for and in Barbados is that he ate food, he drank rum and wine, he defecated, he urinated, and he did nothing else for Barbados.
Marshall also issued the reminder that the Government of Barbados committed itself 13 years ago to removing the statue.
“So you have to urge them, you have to urge them to exercise political will to remove the statue,” Marshall said.
According to history, the statue of Admiral Viscount Horatio Nelson that stands in National Heroes Square was erected in March 1813. The erection at the time so infuriated the enslaved persons of the period because of its location, that within three years in April 1816 the greatest slave uprising in Barbados’ history took place, which is known as the Bussa Rebellion.
President of the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration (CMPI) David Denny, who organized the protest, told the supporters that the Government has until Emancipation Day, August 1, to remove the statue.
He also announced that he was seeking permission to continue protest action outside the Wildey, St Michael based American Embassy, on July 4, which is also celebrated as the United States of America (USA) Independence Day.
Denny said the protest, which was stopped by Police a few weeks ago, is necessary to show solidarity with Black Americans involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. (AH)
[Photo Credit – Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration]