A STATUE of Robert Baden-Powell has been unveiled to the public again today – after Scouts formed a ring of steel around it to protect it.
Baden-Powell was honoured with the memorial in Poole, Dorset, 12 years ago – but last month, critics called for it to be pulled down, claiming he was ‘racist, homophobic and a supporter of Adolf Hitler’.
And after the statue appeared on a Black Lives Matter hit-list, officials at the local council said they’d temporarily remove it – prompting locals and Scouts to stage a protest on the quayside.
More than 36,000 people also signed a petition calling for the statue to remain.
The council then relented, saying instead protective boards would be installed around the statue instead.
And this week, the boards have been removed – and flags draped around the statue.
Councillor Vikki Slade, leader of the local authority, said: “The initial decision to remove the statue was based upon the risk to public safety, and to the statue itself and was only ever intended as a temporary measure.
“Following the local concerns and an assessment that removal may damage the structure we retained the statue in place on the quay.
“Our advice is that the risk is now minimal and we have decided to remove the protective hoarding.
“We are actively working with the Scout Association to consider how best to reflect the wider aspects of the life of Lord Baden-Powell but do intend to retain it in its place.”
In June, activists drew up a ‘Topple the Racists’ list of monuments they want removed from around the UK after demonstrations were sparked over the death of George Floyd in the US.
Protests in Bristol saw the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston, with the memorial to Winston Churchill controversially daubed with the word “racist”.
Following the release of the list, Scouts dressed in their full uniforms saluted in front of the figure of Sir Baden-Powell as supporters formed a human shield around the statue.
Former Queen’s Scout Len Bannister, 79, was among the crowd defending the statue, telling ITV News: “If they want to knock this down, they’ll have to knock me down first.
“It’s absolutely crazy. Who’s it that actually wants to do it?
“I’ll fight them off.
“I’m actually very angry – and I’m not a protester.”
The World Organisation of the Scout Movement defended the statue, saying that Baden-Powell – who was born in 1857 – lived in a “different era with different realities”.
And Bear Grylls, the UK’s chief scout, said the movement should acknowledge the failings of its founder, adding: “We also recognise that Baden-Powell is part of our history, and history is nothing if we do not learn from it.”