Reverend at George Floyd's funeral gives his take on protection of Churchill's statue

12 June 2020, 18:49 | Updated: 12 June 2020, 18:53

By Fiona Jones

Reverend Al Sharpton, who gave a eulogy at George Floyd's funeral, gave his take on the statue of Sir Winston Churchill being protected ahead of protests and whether those who had toppled statues are criminals.

London Mayor has urged Black Lives Matter protesters to stay at home this weekend ahead of planned protests and some statues in Parliament Square have already been boarded up after the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the issue today, tweeting: "We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations.

"They had different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong. But those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults. To tear them down would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come."

Reverend Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist who gave a eulogy at George Floyd's funeral, said he agreed with the UK Prime Minister's observation but disagreed with the conclusion.

"Yes, we shouldn't lie about our history, he's correct, yes, we should deal with our faults, that's why with all due respect Prime Minister, they have museums. You put that in museums and people study them," the reverend said.

"You do not raise them up for adulation and admiration from the public, that is not instructing them on our mistakes, that is educating them on our faults," he said, "when you put someone up as a statue that is for people to look up to.

"To raise people that were slave traders is to act like there was something admirable in that and I vehemently disagree with that."

Reverend Al said he does not know enough to state whether the statue removers were performing a criminal act but said the slave trader certainly was criminal.

Eddie Mair told him the statue of Sir Winston Churchill has been boarded up to protect it ahead of the weekend's protests.

"I think Churchill's position on India, some of his statements, are very troubling. Yes I understand he was a head of state which is much different than a slave trader that we talked about.

"I don't think that excuses the right for some people to protest his more colonial leanings and statements."

Reverend Al said he could not answer if Churchill was a racist but he certainly said and did some racist things: "I know his policies and advocacy of Imperialism was certainly bigoted and certainly was against people of colour."