French Statesman Colbert, Statue vandalised
An activist has vandalised the statue of a French statesman outside the country’s parliament.
Jean-Baptiste Colbert helped write the Code Noir or Black Code in the 17th Century which defined slavery and race in France’s empire.
Footage posted on social media shows the activist spraying Colbert’s statue with red paint on Tuesday.
He sprayed the words “state negrophobia” at the base of the monument before police detained him.
The group Brigade Anti Négrophobie posted the video and the man is himself wearing a shirt bearing their name.In France there have been mass protests over the death of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old killed in police custody in 2016. Demonstrators have likened his death to that of George Floyd.
Colbert was a French statesman who served King Louis XIV during the 17th Century.
He earned the nickname “The Great Colbert” for economic reforms he put in place as France expanded its colonial empire overseas.
In the 1680s, he helped write the Code Noir on the orders of the king. It set out a number of codes, including banning Jewish people from all France’s colonies, defining how slavery would work, and restricting the freedoms of free black people.
As protests have spread in France in recent weeks Colbert has become an increasingly controversial figure
Colbert’s statue sits outside the French parliament, the National Assembly. There is also a building inside named Colbert Hall, and other structures around the country bearing his name.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, former prime minister and the president of France’s Foundation for the Remembrance of Slavery in Nantes, has called for Colbert Hall to be renamed.