The statue honoring Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the 17th-century royal minister who wrote the rules governing slaves in the French colonies overseas. It is located in front of the National Assembly, a prominent landmark overlooking the river Seine in Paris.
Paris police said one person was arrested after “state negrophobia” was scrawled in red paint on the base of the statue and the pink paint splashed on Colbert’s likeness.
A group called the Anti-Negrophobia Brigade posted online photos of graffiti and one of its activists in a police van on the site. The group has called for a national debate on these monuments and what he calls institutionalized anti-Black racism in France.
It is the most important monument in France targeted since George Floyd died in the UNITED states galvanized action in many countries against racial injustice and police violence. The statue was placed under the protection of the police at the beginning of the month in the midst of growing calls to rethink these historical characters.
Colbert, a prominent minister of the King Louis XVI in the 1600s, is celebrated in France to an economic doctrine known as “colbertism”, which is based on the idea that the intervention of the state is needed to serve the country’s economy and wealth.
Colbert has also written the Code Noir (“Black Code”), published two years after his death, which governed the life, the death, the purchase, the religion and the treatment of slaves by their masters.
No statues in France have been taken down as they have in the UNITED states or in other countries, but many have been vandalized in recent weeks.