Bristol protesters overthrow statue of slave trader

It had been a problem for several years and had been the subject of much controversy. Protesters protesting against racism in Bristol on Sunday overturned the statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader who died in the 18th century. It was located in the center of this city in the south-west of England with a slave-like past.

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Erected in 1895 in a street that bears his name, this bronze statue was torn from its pedestal by ropes pulled by a group of demonstrators. Once the statue on the ground, they rushed over it to trample it, according to images broadcast on social networks and relayed by British television.


One of them was photographed kneeling on the neck of the statue, reproducing the gesture of the white police officer who asphyxiated the black American George Floyd in late May in the United States, setting off a worldwide protest movement against racism and police brutality. “This man was a slave trader. He was generous to Bristol but it was on the back of slavery and it is absolutely abject. It is an insult to the citizens of Bristol, ”said John McAllister, a 71-year-old protester quoted by the British agency Press Association.

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The statue was then dragged through the port city before being thrown, sprayed with red paint, into the Avon river, with cries of joy. The local police announced the opening of an investigation and the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, denounced an act “absolutely shameful” and “completely unacceptable. It’s vandalism, like what we saw yesterday in London ”.

For his part, the mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, adopted a more conciliatory tone in a press release. “I know that the unbolt from the Colston statue will divide opinion, as the statue has done for many years. It is important to listen to those who considered this statue to be an affront to humanity ”.

10,000 demonstrators

Coming from a wealthy merchant family, Edward Colston (1636-1721) enriched himself in the slave trade. He would have sold nearly 100,000 slaves from West Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas between 1672 and 1689. He then used his fortune to finance the development of Bristol and good works, which has long earned him a reputation philanthropist before disgrace. In total, some 10,000 people marched through the streets of Bristol, as did thousands more over the weekend across the UK.

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Another statue was targeted Sunday in front of the Parliament in London, that of the former conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill and hero of the Second World War: the inscription “was a racist” was affixed under his name on the basement. This rally in the center of the capital ended in incidents with the police in the early evening, after having started peacefully in the early afternoon in front of the United States Embassy.

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