Calls for historical review of Sunderland's Sir Henry Havelock statue amid Black Lives Matter movement

Campaigners are calling for a historical review into the statue of Sunderland general Henry Havelock.

Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 12:44 pm

A petition has been launched calling for Sunderland council to launch a review into the monument in Mowbray Park, after it was added to the ‘topple the racists’ list in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

The list includes monuments across the UK which campaigners claim ‘celebrate slavery and racism’.

General Havelock was best known for commanding British Empire troops in India during the 19th Century.

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General Havelock statue in Mowbray Park, Sunderland.

According to the listing on the website: “Henry Havelock was a British General known for his role in brutally suppressing the Indian rebellion of 1857.

“Havelock sieged and retook the city of Kanpur from anti-Empire rebels and massacred its occupiers.

“In the conflict as a whole, 800,000 Indians were killed by British troops.”

But campaigners are pressing for a ‘thorough historical review’ into the memorial and the history it represents.

Seaham resident Rosie Smith, 20, who set up the petition, said: “I was made aware of the statue through the ‘topple the racists’ list but I don’t feel we know enough about him.

“We should be questioning whether we are proud to have Havelock representing the city.”

The nursing student continued: “I’m not saying it should be removed – and I’m not advocating for people to be pulling statues down – but Durham and Newcastle council have announced reviews into their historical monuments and we are asking Sunderland to do the same.”

It comes as Sunderland Conservative opposition group launched a petition - now signed by more than 1,200 people – demanding the council ‘reject any calls to remove them and to ensure that mobs do not destroy them’.

“We want to make it clear that this is not the only view point in Sunderland,” added Rosie.

“It’s something I’ve always felt strongly about, but the Black Lives Matter movement has really drawn a light to the statues.

“We’re not trying to rewrite history, these statues are supposed to be a celebration of history, let’s find out if he is someone worth celebrating.”

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