That a controversial statue was attacked isn't a novel occurrence these days, but what makes the Wednesday incident outside the BBC's Broadcasting House less typical is why the statue raised ire. The AP reports a man allegedly propped up a ladder in order to reach the 10-foot-tall sculpture above the building's entrance, where it has sat for nearly a century. He has reportedly spent at least two hours chipping away at the sculpture, which shows Ariel and Prospero from William Shakespeare's the Tempest and was created by Eric Gill, who died in 1940 and was revealed decades later to have sexually abused his daughters and the family dog.
The Guardian reports the statue's presence has only grown more controversial, with a BBC journalist calling it "an obsession for British QAnon, ‘save our children,’ ‘Satanic ritual abuse’ and other conspiracy groups for a very long time." The man who attacked the statue Wednesday wrote slogans including "Time to go was 1989"—an apparent reference to the year a biography revealed his abuse—and "noose all paedos" on the statue, LBC reports. After four hours, police brought the man down in a cherry picker, reports the Daily Mail. Another man nearby who had been livestreaming and discussing pedophiles was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage.
In 2007, the BBC looked at Gill's legacy, calling him "one of the most respected artists of the 20th Century and noting that "the outrage has not significantly undermined his status." Gill works still on public display include the Stations of the Cross sculpture at Westminster Cathedral, though Margaret Kennedy, a campaigner for abuse survivors, urged the church to take them down in 1998. "Survivors couldn't pray at the Stations of the Cross. They were done by a pedophile," she said. "The very hands that carved the stations were the hands that abused." (Read more statue stories.)