A statue of scout founder Robert Baden-Powell has been torn down for fear of vandalism.
The Poole monument in Dorset was due to be archived yesterday due to concerns about Baden-Powell’s associations with the Nazis and Hitler Youth.
But the removal was delayed after a crowd of people – some wearing scout uniforms – gathered around the statue and vowed to protect it.
It comes after a petition asking the Poole Quay memorial to remain on the spot acquired over 36,000 signatures.
Mark Howell, deputy chief of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said: “The safest and most protective thing would be to lift it and put it in a safe place.
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“It has become clear that some people feel that he is surrendering to the demonstrators and we should simply leave him vandalized, which is ridiculous because our obligation is to protect him for the future.
“The most valid point people have raised is that the council may not put it back there.
“My certainty is that he would go back but I will not be on the board forever.
“So it gives people more security for the long-term future if we embark on it.”
Howell added that scaffolding panels will be built around the statue, which overlooks Brownsea Island, where Baden-Powell hosted his first experimental camp in 1907.
“It’s our response to the concerns that have been widely expressed that people don’t want to see him physically pulled out of the ground, so we’re doing our best to protect him and keep him in place,” he continued.
The statue of Baden-Powell is one of many across the UK that have been identified as potential targets by protesters, after a bronze monument by slave trader Edward Colston was demolished during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol la last week.
It comes as protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in police custody in the city of Minneapolis in the United States, enter their third weekend.
Dan Davies, 37, of Poole, is among those who gathered to protect the statue after hearing about the potential threat.
“I’ve been camping like scouts do – I’ve been a scout for as many years as I could,” said Davies.
“It’s something that is very close to my heart. When I saw it happen, I installed my tent and I’ve been here ever since.
“I don’t think people understand the good of the scout movement. People can’t see the goodness.
“It’s a risk that it’s on the list of statues.”
Davies added that he and other protesters are happy to speak with activists who believe it should be removed.
“Poole is a tourist city – we are not looking for trouble,” he added.
The World Organization of Scouting Movement (WOSM) claims to follow the news on the possible removal of the statue.
In a Friday statement, the organization said that Baden-Powell, born in 1857, had lived “in a different era with different realities”.
“Scouting offers an inclusive environment to bring together young people of all races, cultures and religions and creates opportunities for dialogue on how to promote peace, justice and equality,” said WOSM.
“The movement that was founded in 1907 on Brownsea Island stands out for promoting diversity and inclusion which are the cornerstones of Scouting’s values, while denouncing all forms of racism, discrimination, inequality and injustice”.
Dorset police confirmed that the figure had been “identified as a potential target”, but said it did not advise the board to remove it.