June 19, 2020 / 12:54 PM / 18 days ago

Italy anti-racism activists deface statue, alter street name

The street sign for ''Via dell'Amba Aradam'', named after the Battle of Amba Aradam, when colonial power Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1936, has been replaced by protesters against racism with a sticker reading ''Via George Floyd and Bilal Ben Messaud'', to honour the death of Floyd in police custody, and migrant Messaud who died after jumping from a quarantined ship near Sicily, in Rome, Italy, June 19, 2020. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

ROME (Reuters) - Anti-racism activists poured red paint on a statue of an Italian colonial-era general and pasted over the name of a street in Rome on Friday to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

Early in the morning, the activists from a group calling itself the “Let’s Remain Human Network” changed a street sign from Via Amba Aradam to Via George Floyd and Bilal Ben Messaud.

Amba Aradam was the location of a battle that took place in 1936 when Italian colonial forces defeated Ethiopian warriors with mustard gas, tanks, and heavy artillery.

Floyd died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while detaining him on May 25. His death has triggered worldwide protests against racism and police brutality.

Messaud was a migrant who died last month while trying to swim ashore from a ship off the coast of Sicily.

The same group took responsibility for splashing red paint on a statue of Antonio Baldissera, a 19th century general in Italy’s colonial forces in Abyssinia, now part of Ethiopia.

The group said in a post on Facebook that it was protesting against “structural racism” and that the actions were part of a campaign “to dismantle the symbols of colonialism” in Rome.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Gareth Jones

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