Bristol protesters pulled down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and what they replaced it with was beautiful

Sanjana Varghese
Monday 08 June 2020 07:45
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(Twitter )

Protesters in Bristol pulled down a statue of a slave trader that has been a subject of controversy for centuries.

Protests around systemic racism, police brutality and police violence have spread in the last week, ever since protests over the killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, two weeks ago.

In the UK, the discussion around racism has always been fractious – as George the Poet pointed out when he went on BBC Newsnight two weeks ago, systemic racism is as much of an issue in the UK as it is in the US, pointing out that a huge amount of the UK’s history is tied up with the slave trade, which first originated in Europe.

There are reminders of that legacy all over the country, including in Bristol, where the statue of slave trader Edward Colston has been a subject of discussion for decades. The statue was erected in 1895, and in 2018, the city council had voted to change the plaque on the statue.

On Sunday, protesters pulled it down, and rolled it down a hill before finally tossing it into a lake to huge applause from the crowd.

Protesters then went back to the site of the plinth – to make speeches and to leave their placards behind.

One woman even got up on the plinth where the statue was and made an impromptu speech about the UK’s legacy of racism.

Where the statue was, there are now hundreds of signs from the protest on Sunday – many say Black Lives Matter.

Similar actions have happened in various states in the USA, where confederate monuments have been sprayed with graffiti or taken down entirely.

If you look up the new location of the statue, it’s since been updated by someone - who knows - to be at the bottom of the lake.

The mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, has said that while they don’t condone what happened, they appreciate that people were frustrated and that the statue shouldn’t have been there for as long as it was.

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