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Macron says France won't remove colonial-era statues

Macron says France won't remove colonial-era statues
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French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronTwo students were paid to identify slain French teacher, authorities say French mosque closed in crackdown after teacher's beheading French high school teacher decapitated in possible terrorist attack MORE said Sunday that France will not get rid of colonial-era statues as calls for their removal grow amid protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the U.S. 

The French president promised to stand up against racism but also offered his support for police officers and for keeping the statues erected in his first statements on racial issues since Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, according to The Associated Press

Macron said one’s “address, name, color of skin” can impact their ability to succeed in France, but called on all to fight and “find their place,” which the AP noted are atypical  comments from a French leader. He said he will be “uncompromising in the face of racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination.” 

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Floyd’s death in police custody sparked demonstrations around the world, including in France, where the protests have criticized French police’s treatment of minority populations and the country’s management of its former colonies in Africa. At least 15,000 people turned out in Paris for protests on Saturday.

In his statement, Macron maintained that controversial statues from the colonial era would stay in place, saying  “the republic will not erase any trace, or any name, from its history.”

“We should look at all of our history together” including relations with Africa, with a goal of “truth” instead of “denying who we are,” he said, according to the AP. 

Macron did not mention the allegations of police violence within France. 

French police were instructed to stop using chokeholds in response to Floyd’s death in the U.S.

Demonstrations in other countries have led to statues being removed, including one of King Leopold II in Belgium after it was set on fire and one of British slave trader Edward Colston in the U.K. Protesters in the U.S. have defaced and toppled several statues of Confederate leaders. 

The French president also announced that the country will reopen nearly everything starting on Monday after three months of shutdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic. France has confirmed 193,746 cases of COVID-19, leading to 29,401 deaths, according to John’s Hopkins University.