The case caused a stir in Martinique : protesters challenging the historical figure of Victor Schœlcher toppled two statues of him who has decreed the abolition of slavery on 27 April 1848, the same day that the island commemorated this historic decision. These acts, perpetrated on Friday in Schœlcher and Fort-de-France, has attracted numerous convictions, including that of Emmanuel Macron. "By abolishing slavery there are 172 years, Victor Schœlcher was the greatness of France. I strongly condemns the acts of violence perpetrated yesterday in Martinique, making a mess of his memory and that of the Republic ", has tweeted on Saturday, the head of the State.
abolished slavery there are 172 years, Victor Schœlcher was the greatness of France. I strongly condemns the acts of violence perpetrated yesterday in Martinique, making a mess of his memory and that of the Republic.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 23, 2020
Relayed on the social networks, the video of the fall of these statues, carried out by activists who pose as anti-béké and hostile to the colonial legacy, has caused a wave of indignation. A young woman suspected of having participated in the action has been placed in police custody and, in the end, it was convened at the court on 9 July, according to his lawyer, Maître Dominique Monotuka.
"Schœlcher is not our savior"
" Schœlcher is not our saviour ", wrote in a press release the demonstrators. The same had already been blocked for several weeks at the end of 2019-beginning of 2020, hypermarkets every weekend, accusing their owners, often large, families from the local communities (béké), to be the origin of the pollution by chlordecone. This pesticide, long used in banana plantations, is suspected to be the origin of cancer of the prostate.
The day of commemoration of the abolition of#slavery slavery in #Martinique, two statues of the abolitionist Victor Schoelcher to have been destroyed. The one in Fort-de-France and the other in the town of Schoelcher. (via Martinique 1) pic.twitter.com/fMy8rLZYu3— Jeremy Audouard (@Jeremyaudouard) May 23, 2020
On may 22, 1848, the slaves who had rebelled against the settlers pulled out their freedom in Martinique at the end of several days of violent riots. Just a month earlier, on 27 April, had been signed at Paris on the decree abolishing slavery, driven in particular by Victor Schœlcher. The latter was then became member of parliament for Martinique. The library of Fort-de-France, bears his name. And in 1889, the all-new city-Ship space, which is also named in his name. These tributes, for some opponents, prevent the recognition of local heroes of the abolition, such as the slave Roman.
The protesters have requested that the library and the town that bear the name of Schœlcher be renamed for the benefit of local actors of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of the Blacks. In a press release, the mayor of Fort-de-France, Didier Laguerre, has condemned "in the strongest terms" the destruction of these statues and called to " not to give in to the temptation to rewrite history ".
The minister of overseas, Annick Girardin, said on Twitter that, if it is " enabled all to question the story, this requires a systematic and rigorous work. In no case this should be done through the destruction of monuments that embody our collective memory ". Similarly, the senators Catherine Conconne and Maurice Antiste call to reject "this clumsy revisionism" and to recognize that if " the final pressure has been due to the pear ", there was " an external input of thinkers and other european philosophers and so French ". For the mp Serge Letchimy, these " acts of vandalism (...) undermine the work of man, which no one can deny the role and the contribution in the abolition of slavery in 1848 ".
Saturday, the Foundation for the Memory of Slavery has explained, in a press release, that " this fight has brought together the people enslaved, which never ceased to rebel against their state, and have done so again on 22 may 1848 in Martinique, and militant abolitionists, such as Victor Schœlcher ". On Twitter, a writer from martinique, Patrick Chamoiseau has denounced the political exploitation of the work of Victor Schœlcher, but called to respect the man. "Shame on the perpetrators of this despicable act, never give up, never to face hatred and racism," tweeted the mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.
Destruction of the statue of V. Schoelcher to FdeF.— Patrick CHAMOISEAU (@PCHAMOISEAU) May 23, 2020
1 - The enemy this is not Victor Schoelcher, but the Schoelchérisme. In the Face of slavery in our country, Schoelcher has saved the honor of France (against France itself) by the intransigence of his struggles (...) pic.twitter.com/f6nZEwrnGy