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Black Lives Matter protestors topple statue of slave trader, throw it into sea

Edward Colston was a slave trader in the 17th century. There is no reason for Bristol to keep his statue up.

Black Lives Matter protestors topple statue of slave trader, throw it into sea
Image Source: (L) of_colston / Twitter (R) Durotrigesdig / Twitter

Black Lives Matter protestors in Bristol, United Kingdom, have successfully torn down a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader of the 17th century, Al Jazeera reports. In several videos that have surfaced online, protestors can be seen cheering and dancing atop the statue. While critics of the Black Lives Matter movement have expressed discontent with the move, demonstrators seemed unfazed by the backlash. To the latter group, the statue of Colston only represented the country's colonial history and the normalization of white supremacy. Colston's statue is one of the many across the world that have been forcefully taken down by protestors.



The statue had stood on Colston Avenue since 1895 as a memorial to his philanthropic works. Despite his philanthropy, he was still responsible for the deaths of thousands of black slaves transported from the continent of Africa to the Americas. In recognition of this, protestors tied ropes to his 18-foot bronze statue and pulled it down. Once it fell over, one protestor then proceeded to kneel on the statue's neck with his knee for eight minutes straight as a way to remember George Floyd's death. Floyd, an unarmed black man, was one of the most recent victims of police brutality. He was murdered by white police officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department with an illegal chokehold.



Demonstrators painted his face red to depict the blood he had spilled of African slaves. They then rolled the statue into Bristol Harbor, which overlooks Pero's Bridge. The bridge is named after Pero Jones, a black slave who lived and died in the city of Bristol during the latter part of the 18th century. He was brought to country after being "purchased" by slaveowners at the young age of 12. The "death" of the statue seemed fitting to protestors, many of them folks of color. The Google Maps location for the statue was promptly changed. The pin was moved to the middle of Bristol Harbor and marked as permanently closed.



Prior to its toppling, protestor John McAllister, 71, tore down the black bin bags that had been used to cover the statue up. "It says, ‘Erected by the citizens of Bristol, as a memorial to one of the most virtuous and wise sons of this city," he read out loud. "The man was a slave trader. He was generous to Bristol but it was off the back of slavery and it’s absolutely despicable. It’s an insult to the people of Bristol." While no arrests were made as a result of the incident, police officers are now looking into the "small group of people" who were filmed pulling down the statue with ropes.



The action can amount to criminal damage. Police Superintendent Andy Bennett stated, "The vast majority of those who came to voice their concerns about racial inequality and injustice did so peacefully and respectfully. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic added a different dynamic to what was always going to be a challenging policing operation. However, there was a small group of people who clearly committed an act of criminal damage in pulling down a statue near Bristol Harbourside. An investigation will be carried out to identify those involved and we’re already collating footage of the incident."



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