The City of London Corporation, which manages London’s historic center and financial hub, has voted to remove two monuments to British politicians linked to the transatlantic slave trade. The statue of William Beckford, a two-time mayor of London who made his fortune in plantations in Jamaica in the late 1700s, will reportedly be re-sited and replaced with a new work. The monument to Sir John Cass, a 17th-century member of Parliament, philanthropist, and merchant who profited from the Royal African Company, a major force in the slave economy, will be returned to the Sir John Cass Foundation. His name has already been stripped from the City University of London’s business school.
The vote follows an announcement from the U.K. government of laws intended to safeguard historic monuments in England. According to a report in the Art Newspaper, the proposed plans would require individuals to obtain “building consent or planning permission” before removing any of the nation’s 12,000 historic statues. If approved, the law will come into effect in March. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, monuments worldwide have come under scrutiny for perpetuating racist legacies. In Bristol, a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled by protestors and dumped into the city harbor.