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Protesters Take Down the Statue of a Slave Trader in Bristol, England

News Activism
by Eben Diskin Jun 8, 2020

Just days after protesters toppled Confederate monuments in Richmond, VA, and Birmingham, AL, a slave trader’s statue in Bristol was also torn down.

On Sunday, protesters in the southwestern city of Bristol used ropes to pull down a bronze statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader. The statue has been controversial for many years, but the recent global events have thrust it into the spotlight.

When the statue came down, a protester was pictured with his knee on Colston’s neck, emulating the way George Floyd was killed by a white police officer on May 25, 2020. The statue was then dragged through the streets of Bristol and thrown into the harbor.

Historian David Olusoga told BBC, “Statues are about saying, ‘This was a great man who did great things.’ That is not true, he [Colston] was a slave trader and a murderer.”

Not everyone agrees with the statue’s demise, however. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the incident “speaks to the acts of public disorder that have become a distraction from the cause people are protesting about. It’s right the police follow up and make sure that justice is undertaken with those individuals that are responsible for such disorderly and lawless behaviour.”

Statues weren’t safe in London, either. As crowds gathered for a Black Lives Matter demonstration in the British capital, a statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square was sprayed with graffiti.

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