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Author Irvine Welsh addresses anti-racism protest in Edinburgh

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland, Edinburgh and East reporter

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image captionIrvine Welsh addressed the crowd in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh

Scottish author Irvine Welsh has addressed about 1,000 protesters at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Edinburgh.

The Trainspotting writer criticised the statue of Henry Dundas, which stands at the top of the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square.

The 18th Century politician delayed the abolition of the slave trade.

Mr Welsh said it was like having a statue of shamed TV presenter Jimmy Savile on a plinth in a park.

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He said of Dundas: "Nobody did more to prevent the abolition of slavery. And make no mistake, they knew this was coming, that's why they put him so high.

"All this is, is a continuation, it goes right on to this day.

"Imagine a statue of Sir Jimmy Savile, looking down at us with a cigar. Well this is Jimmy Savile times at least 100,000."

image captionThe statue of Henry Dundas stands at the top of the Melville Monument in St Andrew Square

Joseph Malik, organiser for Black Lives Matter event, said he was pleased Irvine Welsh had shown his support by coming to the event.

"What we want to achieve is to bring shame on Edinburgh for having a statue of a mass murderer," he said. "I hope it is removed.

"Racism is still very much alive in Scotland and I was threatened online for coming here today.

"They also threatened my son which is despicable."

image captionJoseph Malik, organiser for Black Lives Matter event, said he was pleased Irvine Welsh had shown his support by coming to the event

The monument is to be dedicated to those enslaved because of Dundas' actions.

New signage will explain that he was "instrumental in deferring the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade".

Devon Singh, 27, from Edinburgh, said she thought there had been a good turnout at the protest.

"I came here today because this has gone on long enough and I wanted to make a stand and fight for what's right," she said.

image captionNicole Watson (L) said she had researched the history of Dundas when she heard about the protest

Stephanie Dyer, 23, from Edinburgh, said: "I want to take a stand and make my voice known.

"When I moved here from London I was called the N word and monkey, and strangers in the street pulled my hair because they were interested in it.

"There are hate crime laws in Scotland but it feels just like lip service as we face racism on a daily basis.

"I don't want platitudes, I want change."

image captionDevon Singh, Stephanie Dyer and Aislinn Prior said they thought there was a good turn out at the event

Aislinn Prior, 29, who moved from London to Edinburgh two years ago, said: "I'm here to take action and to show its not just a hashtag, I want to show solidarity and to make a change.

"I think schools need to teach a more accurate depiction of history in Scotland."

Nicole Watson, 25, from Edinburgh, said she had researched the history of Dundas when she heard about the protest.

She said: "He was personally responsible for the prolonged slavery process for 15 years during which time 650,000 slaves were transported and traded in Scotland.

"I don't want him wiped from the history books but I don't want to overtly celebrate him."

TJ Lamothe, 14, a pupil from Edinburgh Academy, said: "I came here today to actively protest against racism.

"Racism is a real problem and being able to share my views and experiences can help educate others.

"When I was 10 years old I was in a supermarket and I had left my mum to walk around the shop and this person pushed bananas in my face and called me a monkey.

"I knew at the time that some people didn't like black people but it was my first experience of it and I didn't know what to do."

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