A very white cis male group of protesters stood guard overnight to protect a statue of racist homophobe Robert Baden-Powell

Emma Powys Maurice June 12, 2020
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Former soldier Stephen McCartan wakes up in his shelter next to the Lord Baden-Powell statue (Finnbarr Webster/Getty)

A group of cis white men have rallied to protect the statue of racist homophobe Robert Baden-Powell, because someone had to, we guess.

The Baden-Powell statue is set to be removed from Poole Quay as it’s thought to be on a “target list for attack” because of the Scout leader’s well-documented history of racism and homophobia.

After the planned removal was delayed by the council due to logistical issues, a group of locals decided round-the-clock security was required.

Equipped with tents, sleeping bags and camping gear, a handful of ex-soldiers and former Scout members set up shelter alongside the statue to stand guard throughout the night against the feared protestors, who have not yet appeared.

“He is my hero,” said one of the statue’s supporters, Matthew Trott, 28. “I’d rather see the statue placed in a box in a warehouse for the moment rather than at the bottom of the harbour.” He told the Metro that he’d travelled all the way from Cwmbran in Wales to show his support.

Len Banister, 78, a former scout, added: “[Baden-Powell] is the reason I am still here, the pleasure he gives to so many people, they shouldn’t take it down, I will fight them off.”

Locals show their support for the Lord Baden-Powell statue (Finnbarr Webster/Getty)

Robert Baden-Powell had links with the Nazis.

Campaigners for the statue’s removal have highlighted Baden-Powell’s open homophobia and links with the Nazis.

MI5 files declassified in 2010 revealed that he was invited to meet Adolf Hitler after holding friendly talks about the Scouts forming closer ties with Hitler Youth.

He also described Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ as “a wonderful book, with good ideas on education, health, propaganda, organisation etc”.

Former Bournemouth East Labour parliamentary candidate Corrie Drew told BBC Breakfast yesterday: “I know that we’ve all heard of Robert Baden-Powell for starting the Scout movement, but actually a quick look into his history shows that he was very open about his views against homosexuality and that he was a very open supporter of Hitler and of fascism and quite a strong, outspoken racist.”

She suggested that it is possible for people to celebrate the positive work he did “without commemorating the man”.

Mark Howell, the local authority’s deputy leader, said the statue would only be removed to protect it, with the aim of it being permanently reinstalled in its position overlooking Brownsea Island, where Baden-Powell held his first experimental camp in 1907.

More: Poole, Robert Baden-Powell

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