Statue of university namesake and slave-owner James McGill removed after most-recent bout of vandalism

After repeated demands and bouts of vandalism, McGill University has removed a statue of the school’s namesake James McGill.

The university says it was removed from the school’s lower campus Friday after last week's act of vandalism added to previous damage.

McGill (1744-1813) was a Scottish merchant who immigrated to Canada and became a furs and ammunition merchant. During his lifetime, McGill owned at least five Black and Indigenous slaves.

A McGill spokesperson told CTV News the statue is being repaired and will remain out of the public eye indefinitely.

Statue of James McGill covered in red paint. McGill University campus, Montreal. pic.twitter.com/YPUpHhckIG

— Dave Kaufman (@TheKaufmanShow) July 6, 2021

Once it’s fixed, the university says it may be replaced in the lower campus or relocated somewhere else.

Students have lobbied before for the statue to be removed, including in student editorials in both student papers, the McGill Tribune and the McGill Daily.

Last year, the Black Students’ Network of McGill rallied behind the hashtag #TAKEJAMESDOWN to pressure the school to remove the statue.

More recently, an online petition calling for the school to replace the statue with a tree has garnered over 5,000 signatures.

“It can be any type of tree,” read the petition. “Any tree would be better than looking at James McGill.” 

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