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7 Jun, 2020 16:01

WATCH protesters TEAR DOWN statue of slave trader in Bristol

WATCH protesters TEAR DOWN statue of slave trader in Bristol

A crowd of protesters has toppled a statue of famed slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, UK. Cheering as they danced on his effigy, they are just one of several groups to have targeted controversial monuments in recent weeks.

Colston was a 17th-century merchant and philanthropist, whose name graces several streets and schools in his native Bristol. However, his philanthropy was financed in part by the trading of slaves, and as Black Lives Matter protests swept the western world in recent weeks, a petition to have his statue in Bristol’s Colston Avenue removed gained traction. 

Protesters took matters into their own hands on Sunday though, lashing the bronze statue with chains and pulling it off its pedestal. As the figure hit the pavement with a thump, crowds of demonstrators jumped on it, screaming with excitement.

A group of black protesters then knelt on Colston’s neck, imitating the police officer in Minneapolis who acted the same way with George Floyd – the unarmed black man whose death has sparked angry protests all over the globe.

In the US, outrage over Floyd’s death triggered nearly two weeks of rioting, and gave new energy to the push to remove ‘racist’ monuments. In Birmingham, Alabama last week, protesters pulled down a statue of Confederate Navy Captain Charles Linn, one of the city’s founders. Days later, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the removal of an iconic statue of General Robert E Lee in Richmond, while the city’s mayor, Levar Stoney, said that statues of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Stonewall Jackson and JEB Stuart would also be taken down.

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Before the mob in Bristol demolished the Colston statue, some opponents of the monument called for a less radical approach. One signatory to the petition suggested that it be “moved to a museum, where it can be contextualised.” 

The toppling of Colston’s statue comes a day after protesters in London defaced a monument to wartime leader Winston Churchill, on the 76th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Confusingly, the crowd also targeted a statue of Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery. Online, black and white commenters alike questioned the mob’s understanding of history.

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