Thursday, 22 Oct 2020

Oliver Cromwell statue vandalised in Manchester as all monuments are reviewed

A statue of the English Civil War figure Oliver Cromwell has been graffitied in Manchester.

The Wythenshawe Park monument has been spray painted with the words ‘Cromwell is a cockroach’ and ‘f*** racist’.

‘BLM’ has also been written on the statue, with black lives matter protesters continuing to target statues of people linked to racism in the past. 

It comes two weeks after the statue of the 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into the harbour in Bristol, while monuments in London including the statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill were cordoned off by police amid fears that they could be damaged. 

The Grade II listed bronze statue of Cromwell, which is mounted on a granite plinth and pedestal, is dated 1875.

It was originally located on Deansgate.

The writing is in black and red and also appears to reference an ‘Irish invasion’, likely in reference to his conquest of Ireland which saw thousands slaughtered.

Earlier this month, Manchester City Council announced they would review every statue in the city in response to the protests, which broke out around the world over the death of George Floyd. The black American died in American police custody, after a white officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Cromwell, a divisive figure among historians, ruled the country as Lord Protector from 1653 to 1658.

He led the parliamentarians to victory against the monarchists during the civil war. King Charles I was eventually beheaded – but Cromwell shared the same fate after his death, with his remains being dug up to be ‘executed’. 

Thousands of people were massacred during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, notably in Drogheda and Wexford.

The vandalism of the statue has divided opinion in Wythenshawe.

Councillor Glynn Evans, who represents the Brooklands ward, branded the act ‘just mindless graffiti’

He said: ‘(Cromwell) did some things wrong, like with the Irish people.

‘The pyramids were built by slave labourers – would we pull them down?’

The Labour politician continued: ‘It’s history. People haven’t found that statue offensive for many years. It’s just because of what has happened in America and all over.

‘It’s somebody jumping on the bandwagon.

‘If the council decides to move it then fine, but (the vandalism) is making the park look a mess.’

Labour colleague Sarah Judge, who represents Woodhouse Park, said she supported the Black Lives Matter protests, but that she feared that the act of spraying the statue with graffiti could ‘distract’ from the movement’s aims. 

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