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Statue of Scouts founder Baden-Powell to be taken down in Britain

A local government in southern England said it would take action after critics point to a history of racist views, Nazi sympathies.
Image: The Lord Baden-Powell statue on June 11, 2020 in Poole, United Kingdom.
The Lord Baden-Powell statue in Poole, southern England. Finnbarr Webster / Getty Images

LONDON — A local government in southern England said it would remove a statue of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide scouting movement, the latest memorial to be taken down in the wake of anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The demonstrations sweeping across the United States and Europe have reignited a debate about monuments to those involved in Britain's imperialist past.

Poole council said the statue of Baden-Powell, a British Boer War hero, would be moved from its location on the quay of the seaside town to storage on Thursday while there were discussions with local communities about its future.

"Whilst famed for the creation of the Scouts, we also recognize that there are some aspects of Robert Baden-Powell’s life that are considered less worthy of commemoration," council leader Vikki Slade said.

Baden-Powell is widely hailed for setting up the scout movement which boasts 54 million members worldwide. In a poll in 2007, he was voted the 13th most influential person in the United Kingdom in the 20th century. But critics say he held racist views and was a supporter of Adolf Hitler and fascism.

His statue, which was erected just over a decade ago, currently looks across the harbor to Brownsea Island where he started the scout movement in 1907.

A spokesman for the Scouts said the organisation was looking forward to discussing the matter with the council "to make an informed decision on what happens next."

"The Scout movement is resolute in its commitment to inclusion and diversity and members continually reflect and challenge ourselves in how we live our values," he said.

On Sunday, protesters in Bristol, western England, pulled down a statue of 17th Century slave trader Edward Colston and threw it into the harbour. It was retrieved on Thursday and the local council said it would be displayed in a museum.

Other memorials have also since been removed and councils run by the opposition Labour Party said they would review the "appropriateness of local monuments and statues" on public land.