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Bristol Black Lives Matter Protesters Throw Slave Trader Statue Into Harbour After Pulling It Down

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Black Lives Matter Protesters Pull Slave Trade Statue Downsalmassalim/Instagram/boringdystopian/Instagram

For 125 years, a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston has stood in the centre of Bristol – until today, when Black Lives Matter protesters threw it into the harbour. 

Protests against systemic racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death have reached the UK, with marches and rallies taking place across the country this weekend, whether it be Manchester, London or Bristol.

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In Bristol, those in attendance have rid the city of one reminder of its involvement in the slave trade, with demonstrators removing Colston’s bronze memorial from its plinth in St Augustine’s Parade and pushing it into the harbour.

Colston, born in 1636, served as a Conservative MP for Bristol following his tenure as deputy governor of the Royal African Company. He is believed to have trafficked 84,000 African men, women and children in his time, with an estimated 19,000 dying on their journey to the Caribbean and America.

John McAllister, a 71-year-old protester, removed bin bags that were hiding the statue before denouncing it to the crowds, after which a rope was tied around it in order to pull it down.

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Black Lives Matter Protesters Pull Slave Trade Statue DownPA Images

McAllister said, as per The Independent

It says ‘erected by the citizens of Bristol, as a memorial to one of the most virtuous and wise sons of this city’. 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.

His namesake has been drawn upon in other areas of the city – including three schools, streets and even a Colston bun – however with recent coverage around the Black Lives Matter movement, a petition to remove the statue amassed more than 11,000 signatures.

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As the statue was tossed into the sea at Bristol’s harbour, Twitter user Sarah Turnnidge was told by a protester: ‘It’s what he deserves. I’ve been waiting all my life for this moment.’

Echoing events all across the country, thousands in face masks have been in attendance in Bristol’s College Green today, holding placards reading ‘I can’t breathe’ as speakers addressed the crowds, as well taking part in an eight-minute silence – the same amount of time former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck in Minneapolis.

Black Lives Matter Protesters Slave Trade StatuePA Images
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Shortly after Colston’s statue was pulled down, some attendees even knelt on the memorial in a powerful inverse of the US’s recent events. Unlike the more chaotic scenes involving mounted police in London, it appears Bristol’s events have remained largely peaceful.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

Topics: News, Black Lives Matter, Bristol, Edward Colston, George Floyd, Now, Protests, Racism, slavery

Credits

The Independent
  1. The Independent

    Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol pull down statue of 17th century slave trader

Cameron Frew
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