Black Lives Matter protesters topple statue of British slave trader in Bristol

British protesters tore the statue of a famous slave trader on Sunday and threw it in the harbor the other day in the weekend’s protests against George Floyd’s death.

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A movie taken by a witness showed that a couple of dozen people were tying a rope around Edward Colston’s necks statue and bring it to the ground in the southwestern city of Bristol.

They then stamped on it for a few minutes before carrying it and put it into the harbor with a big cheer.

Colston’s face splashed with red in one spot.

“Today I witness history,” tweeted eyewitness William Want.

“The statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader in Bristol, was demolished, cleaned and thrown into the river. #BlackLivesMatter. ”

But Interior Minister Priti Patel called the rollout “utterly disgraceful” and the city police promised to conduct an investigation.

“It talks about the acts of public disorder that have now actually become a distraction from the cause the people are protesting,” Patel told Sky News.

“It is a totally unacceptable act and speaks to the vandal again, as we saw yesterday in London.”

London police reported that 29 were arrested during a day of largely peaceful protests on Saturday that included a pair of scrapes with officers protecting the government district around Downing Street.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees struck a more conciliatory tone than the one Patel assumed.

“I know that removing the Colston statue will share the opinion, as the statue itself has done for many years,” the mayor said in a statement.

“However, it is important to listen to those who thought that the statue represents an insult to humanity.”


Local Police Chief Andy Bennett said about 10,000 people attended Bristol’s “Black Lives Matter” demonstration on Sunday.

“The vast majority of those who came to express their concerns about racial equality and injustice did so in a peaceful and respectful way,” the police chief said.

“But there was a small group of people who clearly committed an act of crime when he pulled down a statue near Bristol Harborside.”

Colston grew up in a wealthy trading family and joined a company in 1680 that had a monopoly on the West African slave trade.

The Royal African Company (RAC) was formally led by the brother of King Charles II who later took the throne as James II.

The company tagged the slaves – including women and children – with their RAC initials on their breasts.

It is believed to have sold about 100,000 West Africans in the Caribbean and America between 1672 and 1689.

Colston later developed a reputation as a philanthropist who donated to charities such as schools and hospitals in Bristol and London.

His bronze statue of 18 meters (5.5 meters) stood on Bristol’s Colston Avenue since 1895. The city also has a school named after him.

The Guardian newspaper said that a local request to remove the statue had collected 11,000 signatures this weekend.

British opposition Labive Party legislator Clive Lewis welcomed the overthrow of the people.

“Good,” Lewis tweeted.

“Someone who is responsible for infinite blood and suffering. We will never solve structural racism until we get a grip on our history in all its complexity. #BLM ”

International parallels

The Colston statue was not the only historical sculpture directed by protesters over the weekend.

In London, protesters were deterred by the statue of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill outside Parliament and crossed out his surname and spray painting “was a racist” underneath.

Thousands joined a Black Lives Matter rally in Brussels, where protesters climbed on Sunday at the statue of former King Leopold II and sang “repairs,” according to video posted on social media. The word “shame” was also engraved on the monument, perhaps referring to the fact that Leopold is said to have ruled over the mass death of 10 million Congolese. A bust from Leopolds in the city of Ghent has also been shaken off, covered in red paint and covered with a cloth scraped: “I can’t breathe.”

Leopold’s reckless early rule over Congo from 1885 to 1908 is notorious for its brutality when the Congo Free State was practically his personal contest. After Leopold surrendered the Congo to the Belgian state, the small nation continued to occupy an area 80 times as large as half a world away, until independence in 1960.

And in Virginia, statesman Ralph Northam has pledged to remove General Robert E. Lee’s statue, and city leaders have pledged to take down the other four Confederate monuments along Richmund’s prestigious Monument Avenue.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

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