‘It’s time for change’: Petition created to remove slave owner statue in Cardiff City Hall

He has been accused of the execution of dozens of enslaved people

A petition has been created calling for the removal of a statue in Cardiff City Hall, which depicts Welsh army officer and slave owner Thomas Picton.

During his career, Picton, who died in 1815, was charged with excessive cruelty to slaves and unlawful execution without following due process, yet somehow his statue still stands in a series of memorials of “Heroes of Wales”.

The Cardiff Tab spoke to creator of the petition, Yasmin Begum, who revealed she started it “in support of Lord Mayor Daniel De’Ath’s open letter to Cardiff Council calling for the removal of the Thomas Picton statue in City Hall.”

She said, “Picton was a slave-master, someone complicit in the execution of enslaved people” adding that she feels he “has no place in the Welsh hall of heroes alongside Owain Glyndwr and other Welsh heroes.”

Yasmin went on to say that such statues should be removed “because they represent a time that is deeply traumatic but deeply linked to the history of Black people in the UK.”

“The Transatlantic Slave Trade is one of the biggest travesties that has ever happened in the history of the world and a deeply shameful part of British history. This should not be celebrated.”

She describes the various statues of slave owners as “an insult to the generations of people of African and African Caribbean descent in the UK.”

She added that the statues “belong in the Slavery museum in Liverpool as relics of our past, and not of our present or future.”

The petition, which has over two thousand signatures, is “calling for the removal of statue of Thomas Picton in from the “Heroes of Wales” hall at Cardiff City Hall at a time when it is safe to do so.” Adding, “It is not acceptable for Picton to be remembered as a hero of Wales.”

Many have voiced their support of the petition through the comment section, with one saying:

“I fully agree with the sentiment. Whilst we cannot change our past, we can certainly leave the long dead age of slavery behind rather than glorify those that took part in it.”

People have been very vocal about their support of the petition

Another individual commented: “save the statues for positive heroes, not mass murderers.”

Council Leader Huw Thomas has supported the effort to have the statue removed, saying it was an “affront” to black people in Cardiff.

“While Picton is commemorated for his part in the Napoleonic Wars, the growing awareness and understanding of the brutal nature of his Governorship of Trinidad and his involvement in slavery makes it, in my view, very difficult to reconcile his presence in City Hall with the values of tolerance, diversity and equality which we want the Cardiff of today to stand for.”

“On that basis, and because his presence is an affront to black people in the city, and a large number of Cardiff citizens, including yourself, I support your request to remove the sculpture.”

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