British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decried threats to the national monument honoring former UK leader Winston Churchill by “violent protestors,” in a barrage of tweets published on Friday.
Johnson credited Churchill with “saving this country – and the whole of Europe – from a fascist and racist tyranny,” but acknowledged that the former British prime minister had expressed unpalatable opinions “that were and are unacceptable.”
“It is absurd and shameful that this national monument should today be at risk of attack by violent protestors,” Johnson wrote, adding that modern Britain cannot “try to edit or censor our past,” and that the current spate of removing statutes and monuments to controversial figures is not the way to deal with racial injustice and inequality.
“Those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults,” Johnson said, lamenting that the protests across the world in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police “have been sadly hijacked by extremists intent on violence.”
He concluded his Twitter broadside against the recent protest movements targeting statues and historical monuments by asking the public to refrain from participating. “The only responsible course of action is to stay away from these protests.”
Johnson made Friday’s remarks as Churchill’s monument had to be covered ahead of upcoming demonstrations, as statues across the world, deemed offensive by some, have fallen victim to the rage of protesters.
The Winston Churchill Statue in Parliament Square, Westminster was defaced on the 76th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, spray-painted with the letters ‘ACAB’, an anti-police slogan used in Black Lives Matter protests in the past.