Denbigh votes to keep controversial H.M Stanley statue after 7,000 signature petition to remove it
The town of Denbigh has voted to keep a controversial statue of H.M Stanley.
The vote was taken by Denbigh Town Council on Friday 15 October and Saturday 16 October in the Town Hall, with the result announced tonight.
471, or 80%, voted for the statue to stay, with 171, or 20%, voting for it to be removed. Turnout was 8.8% of the town’s 6,725 residents. Based on that, the Town Council has decided that the statue will stay.
Henry Morton Stanley is immortalised for his famous words “Dr Livingstone, I presume” after finding the Scottish explorer on the shores of Lake Tanganyika where he had been lost in central Africa.
However, Stanley’s association with European imperialism, particularly the Belgian King Leopold II, led to objections during a period when the Black Lives Matters movement led national protests.
King Leopold II committed acts of appalling inhumanity against the population of the Congo Free State – now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, his supporters say Stanley was not working for the Belgian despot when the atrocities occurred and he has been unfairly tainted.
The decade-old statue, created by artist Nick Elphick, was already the target of protests. Artist Wanda Zyborska has held a performance where the statue is covered up in a rubber sheath, to protest against what she claims is its continued ‘toxic’ effect.
But the statue came under renewed scrutiny following the Black Lives Matter protests, with a petition begun in June of last year asking for its removal drawing over 7,000 signatures.
A long-time opponent of the controversial statue, Barbara Manley, said the 19th-century explorer’s crimes against humanity and support slavery meant his statue should be removed completely.
“The people of Denbigh may just look at the statue and regard HMS as the local lad who made good,” Barbara Manley said in June of last year.
“But the whole message of the Black Lives Matter movement is, please look at our history and question and reflect on what has happened in the past.
“The statue came into existence because of a European Rural Development Grant. It was hoped that it would encourage tourism to the town and maybe it will now, but whom will it attract?”
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