A statue of colonizer King Leopold II in Antwerp, Belgium was removed from public view after protesters set it on fire.
King Leopold II colonized the Congo in the mid-1880s and ran a brutal regime involving slavery, ecocidal resource extraction, and genocide, which lasted until 1960 and left an estimated 10 million dead1 2. The night of June 3, 2020, rebels set one of the many statues of him in Belgium, this one in Antwerp, on fire as part of the international 2020 Black liberation uprising3. Subsequently, on June 9th, the city government removed the statue, placing it in the Middelheim museum where it will remain “for the time being.” An aide to the conservative mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, communicated that the statue was removed because it posed a “public safety issue,” and not because of public outcry. He added that the square where it stood was set to be redesignd in 2023, “probably without space for the statue4.”