Bristol mayor says Priti Patel's comments on slave trader statue showed 'a lack of understanding'

Greg Evans
Monday 08 June 2020 13:00
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Picture:(Sky News)

On Sunday, anti-racism protestors in Bristol tore down a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston and rolled the sculpture into a nearby river.

Rather than say that the protestors had every right to remove a landmark that celebrated Britain's racist past, home secretary Priti Patel lashed out at the activists.

Speaking to Sky News she said:

I think that is utterly disgraceful and that speaks to the acts of public disorder that have actually become a distraction from the cause in which people are actually protesting about and emphasing and sympathising with.

She also called on the police to investigate the matter and bring "justice" to those who perpetrated the incident.

In complete contrast to Patel's words, the Labour mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees claimed that the Tory minister showed 'a lack of understanding' when she spoke out against the protestors toppling the statue.

Also speaking to Sky News, he said:

I think the home secretary has shown a lack of understanding of where the country is right now and I would love to hear some outrage about the 25 per cent of kids in my city who live in poverty, the growing inequality, the deaths in custody both here and in the United States, the militarisation of US streets, the windrush scandal.

You can't be selective with your outrage. If over the last few years, our politics had managed to capture the spirit of the country and recognised that growing frustration that I think was on show during Brexit then, maybe we wouldn't have ended up in this situation. We would have had a political valve to capture those fears and the desperation of our politics. 

That's not to condone what's going on but unless you seek to understand you end up in a bad situation. You see the ultimate example of that in the United States, with the president who is not even trying to understand, he just wants to dominate. That is not the way we want to do politics in Britain. You must understand your population. 

In a further, contrast to Patel's statement, Supt Andy Bennett said that it 'felt right to allow the removal of statue' to happen and that is why they didn't intervene.

There has been no announcement as to whether the city plans to restore the statue but the location where it once stood has since become a shrine for the many Black Lives Matter placards that people took the protest.

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