Anti-racism Activists Topple Statue Of Napoleon’s First Wife Josephine In Martinique

Written by Aanchal Nigam

The anti-racism demonstrators have toppled statue of Napolean’s empress Josephine along with another colonist figure in Martinique, overseas French territory.

While the Black Lives Matter movement has been triggered with a fresh wave of raging injustice across the world, the anti-racism demonstrators have toppled the statue of Napoleon’s empress Josephine along with another colonist figure in the overseas territory of France, Martinique. This comes after French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to not remove the controversial monuments from the country.

Josephine de Beauharnais was born into a rich colonial family on an island and then went on to become Napoleon’s first wife and empress. Her statue was attacked by a group of people who tied it with a rope and pulled it down on July 26 because the emperor is known to establish slavery in French colonies again in 1802. This was at least eight years after slavery was banned under the French revolution. Josephine’s statue was already decapitated nearly three decades ago and was left unrepaired since then. 

Another statue removed by anti-racism protesters

Meanwhile, few metres away, the anti-racism demonstrators also vandalised a statue of  Pierre Belain d’Esnambuc, the trader who established the first French colony on Martinique in 1635.  The activists had reportedly warned about pulling these statues down in a video posted on social media last week. An international media agency quoted a police source saying that a top official of the French government had refused the law enforcement officers from intervening with the anti-racism activists. However, the lawmaker reportedly did denounce the toppling of statues and called it ‘unacceptable actions by a violent minority’.

The years-long debate on France’ colonial past has resurfaced by the ongoing fresh protests against racial bias faced by the community across the globe. They were triggered in May when a 46-year-old African American George Floyd died in the custody of Police after, the now-suspended law enforcement officer kept his knee on the unarmed man’s neck for over eight minutes. Back on May 22,  the anniversary of the abolition of slavery on Martinique, the activists had toppled two other statues that were placed in honour of Victor Schoelcher, the lawmaker whose decree outlawed slavery across France in 1848.