London hospitals to remove two monuments linked to slave trade

Colonial-era statues have been targeted across the UK by Black Lives Matter protesters

Two London hospitals say they will remove statues in their grounds with links to slavery, in response to the anti-racism protests that have swept across the UK after the death of George Floyd in the US.

The Guy's and St Thomas's hospitals said on Thursday they would take two statues down in a matter of weeks.

The first statue is of Thomas Guy, who founded Guy's hospital in the 18th century and had shares in the South Sea Company, which was involved in the slave trade.

The company aimed to trade 4,800 men every year.

The second is of Sir Robert Clayton, who served as president of St Thomas's hospital in the 17th century, and was a banker connected to the Royal African Company, which shipped slaves across the Atlantic.

"Like many organisations in Britain, we know that we have a duty to address the legacy of colonialism, racism and slavery in our work,” The Guy's and St Thomas' Charity, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, and King's College London said.

"We absolutely recognise the public hurt and anger that is generated by the symbolism of public statues of historical figures associated with the slave trade in some way.

"We have therefore decided to remove statues of Robert Clayton and Thomas Guy from public view, and we look forward to engaging with and receiving guidance from the Mayor of London's Commission on each."

The foundation said that there were no plans to change the name of the hospitals.

Statues with links to the slave trade have become targets across the UK after Black Lives Matter protesters pushed a monument of Edward Colston, a slave trader, into Bristol harbour on Sunday.

Just days later, the statue of slave owner Robert Milligan was removed from outside the Museum of London.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a commission to investigate statues and names of roads that are linked to the slave trade.

Mr Khan said that those that do not stand for the city's diversity would be removed.

Statues of Confederate leaders and the explorer Christopher Columbus have also been torn down in the US this week.

Anti-racism protests have spread across the world after shock at the video of Floyd, an African-American man who was knelt on by a white police officer in Minneapolis until he died of asphyxiation.

Updated: June 12, 2020 02:28 PM

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