'Racist symbols': F1 champion Hamilton demands removal of statues after protesters topple slave trader monument in Bristol
British Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has "challenged" government officials around the world to remove "racist statues" after protesters in Bristol tore down a monument to a 17th-century slave trader.
The statue of Edward Colston, a Bristol merchant who traded tens of thousands of African slaves to the Americas, was ripped down amid anti-racism protests in the city on Sunday.
Colston bequethed his wealth to charities on his death in 1721 and his name remains on numerous buildings and streets in Bristol, becoming an increasing source of contention.
Edward Colston statue pulled down by BLM protesters in Bristol. Colston was a 17th century slave trader who has numerous landmarks named after him in Bristol. #BlackLivesMattters#blmbristol#ukprotestspic.twitter.com/JEwk3qKJx2— Jack Grey (@_jackgrey) June 7, 2020
After toppling his statue, protesters danced on the momument, yelping in delight before dragging it through the streets and dumping it into a nearby habor.
F1 champion Hamilton shared a post on Instagram from reporter Antoine Allen depicting the Colston statue being brought down, with a message from Allen reading: "All statues of racist men who made money from selling a human being should be torn down! Which one is next?"
Hamilton then added a message of his own to his following of 16.5 million, clarifying that he was in favor of the "peaceful" removal of similar statues.
"I challenge government officials worldwide to make these changes and implement the peaceful removal of these racist symbols," the driver wrote.
Mercedes star Hamilton has been a vocal presence on social media since protests erupted following the death of African American man George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis at the end of May.
The Monaco-based millionaire driver, 35, earlier called out his fellow F1 stars for not offering their support of the protests or condemning Floyd's death.Also on rt.com 'I see you staying silent': F1 world champ Lewis Hamilton slams fellow drivers for lack of response to George Floyd death
The UK saw a wave of protests on Sunday as campaigners targeted monuments including a statue of wartime leader Winston Churchill, daubing "racist" across its plinth.
The destruction and clashes with police has been condemned by politicians including Home Secretary Priti Patel, who branded the actions of those in Bristol "utterly disgraceful."
Bristol police have said they will investigate the destruction of the Colston statue.