An activist has vandalised the statue of a French statesman outdoors the nation’s parliament.
Jean-Baptiste Colbert helped write the Code Noir or Black Code within the 17th Century which outlined slavery and race in France’s empire.
Footage posted on social media reveals the activist spraying Colbert’s statue with pink paint on Tuesday.
He sprayed the phrases “state negrophobia” on the base of the monument earlier than police detained him.
The group Brigade Anti Négrophobie posted the video and the person is himself carrying a shirt bearing their title.
The homicide of George Floyd by US police within the metropolis of Minneapolis final month has prompted a wave of demonstrations worldwide in opposition to police brutality and institutional racism.
Statues of racist or slave-owning historic figures have additionally been focused.
In France there have been mass protests over the loss of life of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old killed in police custody in 2016. Demonstrators have likened his loss of life to that of George Floyd.
This isn’t the primary French statue to be vandalised in current weeks. Within the northern metropolis of Lille, protesters wrote the phrases “murderer” and “colonist” on the statue of Louis Faidherbe, a 19th Century governor of Senegal when it was a French colony.
Who was Jean-Baptiste Colbert?
Colbert was a French statesman who served King Louis XIV through the 17th Century.
He earned the nickname “The Great Colbert” for financial reforms he put in place as France expanded its colonial empire abroad.
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Within the 1680s, he helped write the Code Noir on the orders of the king. It set out a variety of codes, together with banning Jewish individuals from all France’s colonies, defining how slavery would work, and limiting the freedoms of free black individuals.
As protests have unfold in France in current weeks Colbert has turn into an more and more controversial determine.
Colbert’s statue sits outdoors the French parliament, the Nationwide Meeting. There may be additionally a constructing inside named Colbert Corridor, and different buildings across the nation bearing his title.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, former prime minister and the president of France’s Basis for the Remembrance of Slavery in Nantes, has referred to as for Colbert Corridor to be renamed.
“The time has come for France to take a new step concerning the question of colonisation and slavery,” he advised the Ouest France newspaper.
“I am not saying that we dismantle all the statues, for example, but that we affix a plaque recalling who Colbert is and what he did,” Mr Ayrault stated.
President Emmanuel Macron stated earlier this month that France “will forget none of its artworks, it won’t take down statues” within the wake of the protests.
“I will be very clear tonight, compatriots: the Republic won’t erase any name from its history,” he stated in a televised handle.
Statues have been defaced and toppled throughout Europe in current weeks, together with in Belgium and the UK.