Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Winston with a mohawk, Mayday 2000
Photo: Nick Cobbing

Last Of The Mohicans Bloodied By The Unknown Soldier

Former soldier daubed statue

1st May 2000

A former soldier who served with the British Army in Bosnia has handed himself into police admitting authorship of the blood red drips daubed on the statue of Winston Churchill during the anti-capitalist demonstrations in central London on Mayday.

Twenty five year old James Mathews from Cambridge borrowed a spray can from a fellow protestor before shimmying up the statue to make his statement. After seeing a photograph of himself in a tabloid newspaper, accompanied by the words "scum", he handed himself in and made a statement to British media: "The May Day celebrations were in the spirit of free expression against capitalism. Churchill was an exponent of capitalism and of imperialism and anti-Semitism. A Tory reactionary vehemently opposed to the emancipation of women and to the independence of India. The media machine made this a paunchy little man much larger than life - a colossal, towering figure of great stature and bearing with trademark cigar, bowler hat and V-sign. The reality was an often irrational, sometimes vainglorious leader whose impetuosity, egotism and bigotry on occasion cost many lives, unnecessarily, and caused much suffering that needless and unjustified."

However, Mathews, now a student of English and European literature and philosophy, completely distanced himself from those who sprayed the cenotaph: "I didn't and never would deface the Whitehall Cenotaph - it's a monument to ordinary soldiers and I was an ordinary soldier. I think what they did to the cenotaph was a very bad thing."

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