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In an era of reconciliation and truth-telling, many have questioned the symbolic power of statues. A storm of controversy across the globe galvanised an electric energy in which many statues were damaged or toppled. Statues became lightning rods for social conflict. This article explores earlier clashes over statues in Perth in the late 1970s and 1980s, revealing that while the statue of a colonial figure was untouchable despite the dark side of his history, the statue of an Aboriginal leader erected to recognise Western Australia’s First Peoples was decapitated. The article concludes with a discussion of methods for dealing with the dark history of these silent sentinels from the past.
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