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How our historic statues are an ‘insult’ to Indigenous Australians

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

It was the tipping point in the UK’s Black Lives Matter movement – A controversial bronze statue of slave trader Edward Colston torn down in Bristol and dragged down the streets, consigned to the watering depths of the harbour where his ships once sailed. 

It was the tipping point in the UK's Black Lives Matter movement - A controversial bronze statue of slave trader Edward Colston torn down in Bristol and dragged down the streets, consigned to the watering depths of the harbour where his ships once sailed. 

Two days later merchant Robert Milligan was pulled down from London's Canary wharf followed by King Leopold II in Belgium.

The global takedown has left the world divided.

Do statues represent history or is history made by tearing them down?

"Certainly statues are meant to stop people in their tracks to think ... to move them says that the racism they represent didn't exist," Associate Professor Richard White from the University of Sydney told 9News.

Australia isn't immune to the events being witnessed overseas.

Protests in Sydney last night saw police surrounding the statue of Captain James Cook in Hyde Park in anticipation for possible attempts to vandalise the monument.

Built in 1878, the statue stands atop the inscription "discovered this territory 1770".

It is one of 25 publicly funded statues of colonial leaders in Sydney and after being placed on the national heritage list, anyone who defaces it could face up to seven years in jail or an $88,000 fine.

"I think that is an insult. Given that ancestors of Aboriginal people navigated their way to Australia 60,000 years ago," Professor White said .

For many Indigenous Australians, the statues are a harsh reminder of the country's painful history.

"For us at the time the statue was put up that was consistent with colonialism," CEO of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Nathan Moran, said.

For indigenous Australians the nearby statue of the fifth governor of NSW Lachlan Macquarie is less forgiving, built just seven years ago.

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"It's hard to believe we built a statue of Lachlan Macquarie, who to Aboriginal Australians is the governor that declared martial law to kill and massacre our people," Mr Moran said.

Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/why-historic-statues-insult-indigenous-australians/8140cfd3-30ac-4518-8ef9-319dcca6c245

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