500 signatures reached
To: Goldsmiths University of London
Deptford Town Hall Statues Must Fall!
We want Goldsmiths to remove Deptford Town Hall Statues! We do not accept colonial imagery deeply connected to the horrors of slavery and the telling of history through the eyes of the oppressor. That is what these statues represent. The debate about how we should present and interpret such controversial symbolism should not continue. THEY MUST FALL!
One of the key demands of Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action (GARA), a Black and POC student-led group who occupied Deptford Town Hall for 137 days in 2019, is the removal of the statues (as well as a reparative justice program.) It is through GARA’s direct action and continuous struggle against the institutional racism that the descriptions of the statues have been published on temporary placards outside the building. This has shown the building’s history through a decolonial lens informed by the research of Joan Anim-Addo, Les Back and the late Paul Hendrich. But this is not enough.
Together with comrades in South Africa with the Rhodes Must Fall movement, comrades in Bristol toppling Colston and countless collective decolonial movements around the world, we demand action!
Goldsmiths is undertaking ‘community consultation’ that is sorely inadequate and designed to exclude Deptford’s predominantly BAME communities. So please make your voice heard and sign to have these statues removed!
Why is this important?
The four statues: Drake, Blake, Nelson and even a nameless white man as a ‘representation’ of Imperialist. Racist. Power. All have strong roots in the slave trade. Down with honouring white supremacy and people who subjugated nations and enslaved people!
Deptford Town Hall opened in 1905 as the town centre, but since it was taken over by Goldsmiths in the late 1990s, it’s no longer open to the local community. Not only are community members denied access to the building, but we must also endure glorified emblems of slavery on the front of the building.
The four statues are of:
Sir Francis Drake (c. 1540 – 1596), a pioneer of the slave trade making at least three royally sponsored trips to West Africa to kidnap Africans and sell them. Elizabeth I awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581.
Robert Blake (1598 – 1657), an admiral who served under Oliver Cromwell throughout the English Civil War. He fought the Dutch to secure the (slave) trade triangle between the Caribbean, West Africa and England. Cromwell was responsible for trafficking the first waves of enslaved people to and from the Caribbean; installing the plantation system in Jamaica; and the massacres in Drogheda (1649).
Horatio Nelson (1758 – 1805), was a naval flag officer whose leadership was during the Napoleonic Wars (1803 – 1815). Nelson spent a large part of his career in the Caribbean and developed an affinity with the slave owners there, using his influence against the abolitionist movement in Britain.
The fourth statue, understood to be a ‘representative’ figure, rather than a specific person, from the period when the building was constructed. It shows a modern admiral, with sextant and binoculars.
Deptford was strongly connected with the transatlantic slave trade, with many ships built, fitted and repaired in the local docks before heading out to Africa. Olaudah Equiano was initially trafficked to Deptford; he fought to become a freedman and was one of the key figures in the abolitionist movement. Here is a man we want to remember.
Original text and text that is on the placards here: https://www.gold.ac.uk/about/history/dth-statues/