A group gathered around the monument to Earl Grey, the prime minister who abolished slavery, as Black Lives Matter protestors marched towards it.
The group known as the ‘Defenders of Newcastle’ chanted “all lives matter” and “leave the statue and go home” as BLM protestors attempted to gather around the monument to Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.
Though Grey is known for many liberalising accomplishments during his tenure as the British prime minister in the 1830s, including the Great Reform Act of 1932 and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, his statue had been put on the “Topple the Racists” hit list by the far-left Stop Trump Coalition.
They want to topple the statue of the guy who abolished slavery. pic.twitter.com/XH2iyC9CIO
— Christopher Snowdon (@cjsnowdon) June 9, 2020
The group initially targeted his statue because of the method the British government used to abolish slavery throughout the empire, i.e. by purchasing slaves’ freedom from former slaveholders — a policy which incurred massive debts the British people only finished paying off in 2015.
— Owen Humphreys (@owenhumphreys1) June 13, 2020
The Stop Trump Coalition website suggested the government should have paid reparations to former slaves instead — although the method chosen by Grey ensured a more or less smooth economic transition from slavery, averting the sort of acrimony and conflict which plunged the United States into a civil war years later.
Large group in Newcastle protecting the Grey’s Monument from BLM activists. pic.twitter.com/7ihCKUWVAL
— Michael Heaver (@Michael_Heaver) June 13, 2020
One demonstrator protecting the monument, who appeared to be an older veteran, is reported to have shouted: “It’s not about black or white, it’s about anarchism — you’re anarchists and you’re out to cause trouble.”
Trouble duly followed, with claims on social media of flares thrown by the BLM protesters and bottles thrown by the counter-demonstrators. It is not clear who started it, with footage online appearing to show an exchange of missiles — but, after a robust police response to separate the groups, the event appears to have come to an end without serious disorder.
Rival protest groups faced off in Newcastle city centre this morning. Black Lives Matter demonstrators were met by opposition groups around Grey's Monument.
— LBC News (@LBCNews) June 13, 2020
The Newcastle face-off came as Black Lives Matter protests and counter-demonstrators seeking to defend monuments took to the streets of cities across the nation, leading to some clashes between the groups and the police at Trafalgar Square and on Whitehall in London, in particular.
Ahead of the protests on Saturday, the leftist Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan boarded up statues of historical figures such as the monuments to Sir Winston Churchill and Gandhi.
The crowd around Monument burst into a rendition of God Save the Queen pic.twitter.com/NGlUWOV1TC
— Will Metcalfe (@thewillmetcalfe) June 13, 2020
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