‘He’s no hero to us’: Petition to remove Lord Nelson statue gathers steam in Barbados

Towering over Bridgetown, Barbados for more than 200 years, one local activist is seeking to have Lord Horatio Nelson’s statue removed and replaced with an appropriate symbol of Bajan freedom. (Photo: Twitter @KevzPolitics)

As the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the United States continues to inspire persons across the world, in Barbados local activists are renewing their call for the government to remove the statue of controversial war ‘hero’ Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson.

The bronze statue of Nelson, located smack in Bridgetown’s National Heroes Square, is a towering reminder of British colonialism, and a petition demanding the Barbadian government’s attention (and action) is gaining traction.

According to the petition’s organiser, Alex Downes, Lord Nelson cannot be the symbol that encapsulates freedom as he was against the abolition of slavery in the 1830s.

“In a country where approx. 95 per cent of the population is also black, why do we continue to proudly force ourselves to relive the traumas our people have faced by having this statue stand in Heroes Square?” Downes asked.

“The time to start addressing our racist past is NOW. The time to remove Lord Nelson’s Statue from Bridgetown is NOW,” he declared.

More than 3,100 persons have signed the #NelsonMustGo petition since launching on Sunday (June 7), with the initial target set at 5,000 signatures.

For over 200 years, Downes argues, Nelson’s classification as a hero is not in the interest of Barbados as he fought the Battle of Trafalgar for the British to ensure the island didn’t fall into the hands of France.

Formally called Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Statue was erected in 1813 and predates Nelson’s Column in London by some 30 years.

The bronze statue has been a contentious issue in Barbados for many years; whenever plans to remove it surfaced, a vigorous debate would then ensue derailing the effort.

Nelson’s statue saw its last attempt at removal in 1999 when Trafalgar Square was renamed Heroes Square. Once again, a fierce debate only resulted in it being turned around.

Contempt for the statue hasn’t waned, however, and it was defaced in protest on Independence Eve (November 29th) in 2017.

“The statue of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson should be removed from Heroes Square and replaced with an appropriate symbol of freedom,” Downes wrote.