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Statue of Lincoln and kneeling black man removed from Boston

The contrast of the fully-clothed Lincoln and a near-naked black man on his knees was considered demeaning, and the city's arts council ruled last June in favor of its removal.

The Abraham Lincoln Statue, erected in 1879, by Thomas Ball, is viewed in Park Square in Boston, Massachusetts on June 16, 2020. The statue is a copy of the “Emancipation Memorial” in Washington DC and represents Lincoln freeing African American slaves at the end of the US Civil War. Picture: AFP.

WASHINGTON, United States - A statue of Abraham Lincoln next to a kneeling, newly-freed slave was removed on Tuesday in Boston by order of the mayor's office, local television news reported.

The contrast of the fully-clothed Lincoln and a near-naked black man on his knees was considered demeaning, and the city's arts council ruled last June in favor of its removal.

"The decision for removal acknowledges the statue's role in perpetuating harmful prejudices and obscuring the role of black Americans in shaping the nation's fight for freedom," the mayor's office said in a statement.

A petition launched by a local artist had gathered 12,000 signatures to remove the statue, entitled the "Emancipation Group".

Put up in 1879 in a square in the state capital of Massachusetts, it was a replica of a statue installed in Washington in 1876.

While it was funded by a group largely made up of former slaves, they did not have the final say on the monument's design, which was meant to honour Lincoln's proclamation of emancipation.

The 16th president of the United States, dubbed "Honest Abe" and the "Great Emancipator," banned slavery with the edict in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War that had been triggered by the secession of southern states intent on maintaining slavery.

In the wake of massive race demonstrations this summer over the killing of a black man by police in Minneapolis, statues of Christopher Colombus, Theodore Roosevelt and the secessionist general Robert E Lee - have been removed or vandalised, including in Boston, New York, and Washington.

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