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Black Lives Matter: Slave trader statue may get plaque ‘explanation’

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ST Peter parish officials will be consulted about adding a further plaque to the statue of Sir George Carteret to explain his connections with the slave trade, the Constable has said.

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Richard Vibert was responding to calls for the sculpture – erected by his predecessor, John Refault, on land owned by Randalls – to be taken down because of Sir George’s connections with slavery.

Mr Vibert said that he was against removing the statue.

‘My view is that you can’t rewrite history,’ he said. ‘What happened, happened but whether there should be a fuller history of what George Carteret did is perhaps something we need to consider.’

The Constable said that, although the parish’s involvement in the project had been limited, he would raise the issue with his Procureurs before deciding how to proceed and that, if necessary, he would call a parish assembly to seek approval for such an approach.

‘There is often something which we’d prefer to forget about history and we shouldn’t do, really. You should have the whole picture of what’s taken place and that might satisfy everyone if we did that,’ he said.

The Black Lives Matters movement has raised questions over a number of monuments that could be perceived to glorify those that benefitted from slavery. In Bristol last weekend a statue of slave owner and trader Sir Edward Colston was toppled during an anti-racism protest and thrown into Bristol Harbour.

Mr Vibert said that he did not believe it was appropriate to remove statues and he referred to the statue of General Don in the Parade, erected to commemorate a governor known for his road building and communications but who had, apparently, allowed Spanish slave ships to enter Gibraltar harbour while serving there.

‘In the time these things happened, the mindset was totally different and what was acceptable was different. We wouldn’t do these things today but they happened,’ he said.

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George Carteret, who was born in St Peter, is known principally as the Royalist rewarded for his loyalty with lands in America, following the restoration of the monarchy after the Civil War. His connections with the Royal African Company arise from his links with King Charles II.

‘It is unfortunate but I think we have diverted attention from what we really should be looking at, which is George Floyd and his murder, to the actions of someone 400 years ago. Looking back at that isn’t helping the situation. It’s important what we do now and that is that we should teach toleration.

‘One would like a world where there is no racism or modern-day slavery, which is something that exists and is absolutely awful all over the world. It is still happening today and that’s what we should be fighting against,’ Mr Vibert said.

Meanwhile, a petition on the gov.je website to rename Trenton Square in St Helier has gathered more than 400 signatures. William Trent was a Philadelphia merchant with links to the slave trade.

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