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BLM Protesters Found Not Guilty Of Criminal Damage After Toppling Edward Colston Statue

by : Emily Brown on :
BLM Protesters Found Not Guilty Of Criminal Damage After Toppling Edward Colston StatueAlamy

Four Black Lives Matter protesters have been found not guilty of criminal damage after pulling down a statue of Edward Colston and dropping it into Bristol harbour.

Protesters toppled the statue of the 17th century slave merchant in June 2020 during a protest that occurred in the weeks following the death of George Floyd in the US.

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Four people – namely Rhian Graham, 30, Jake Skuse, 33, Sage Willoughby, 22, and Milo Ponsford, 26 – faced charges for their alleged roles in pulling down the statue, with their fate put in the hands of a jury during a two-week trial at Bristol Crown Court.

Black Lives Matter protests (Alamy)Alamy

During the trial, jurors were shown CCTV and mobile phone footage of the statue being toppled during the BLM protest before it was thrown into the harbour, Sky News reports.

In their closing arguments, defence barristers told the jury that the statue had become inappropriate and offensive in the decades since it was erected, and that over the years thousands had signed petitions to have it removed.

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Liam Walker QC, who represented Willoughby in the trial, told jurors, ‘Make no mistake members of the jury, your decision is not just going to be felt in this courtroom or this city. I urge you all the be on the right side of history.’

Tom Wainwright, representing Ponsford, said, ‘If you have a cancer like Colston festering in your city, you cut it out. Only once it’s gone that the body can heal.’

Black lives matter signs at base of statue (Alamy)Alamy

Prosecutor William Hughes QC told the jury the prosecution did not dispute Edward Colston’s history as being ‘awash’ with the slave trade, but stressed it was not Colston who was on trial.

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Hughes argued that the evidence presented to the jury proved each defendant had acted in a criminal manner, however the jury ultimately found the four accused not guilty.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University and went on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming Senior Journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and longer form features.

Topics: News, Black Lives Matter, BLM, Bristol, Edward Colston, statue

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Sky News
  1. Sky News

    Edward Colston statue: Black Lives Matter protesters found not guilty of criminal damage after toppling monument of slave trader