A bronze statue of a 17th-century slave trader has been pulled down by anti-racism protesters in England. Black Lives Matter protesters brought down the statue of the slave trader of Edward Colston on Sunday.
The demonstrators in Bristol in Southwest England tied a rope to the Grade II-listed statue on Colston Avenue before tumbling it to the floor.
The crowd jumped and cheered as the effigy of the notorious slave trader came crushing to the ground. They later bowled it down the street and dump it into Bristol Harbor.
“I know the removal of the Colston Statue will divide opinion, as the statue itself has done for many years. However, it’s important to listen to those who found the statue to represent an affront to humanity,” the mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said of the action of the protesters.
For many years the bronze statue of Colston has been a source of controversy and tension. A member of the Royal African Company, Colston’s company was involved in the transportation of about 100,000 slaves from West Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas between 1672 and 1689, “cramming them into ships to maximize profit,” The Guardian reported.
“Whilst history shouldn’t be forgotten, these people who benefited from the enslavement of individuals do not deserve the honor of a statue. This should be reserved for those who bring about positive change and who fight for peace, equality, and social unity,” a petition to remove the now toppled statue, which was signed by more than 11,000 persons said.
The pulling down of Colston’s statue follows the toppling down of several Confederate statues during Black Lives Matter protests in the US in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.
Over 10,000 demonstrators thronged the streets of Bristol which is said to be about 120 miles west of London, hoisting “Black Lives Matter” signs and chanting “I can’t breathe” —in memory of Floyd as he was pinned by police.
“There was a small group of people who clearly committed an act of criminal damage in pulling down a statue near Bristol Harbourside,” Avon and Somerset police said Sunday in a statement. “An investigation will be carried out to identify those involved and we are already collating footage of the incident.”
Floyd died at the hospital a few days ago after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for several minutes as 46-year-old Floyd yelled: “I can’t breathe.”
Reports said the officers responded to a call from a grocery store that claimed Floyd had used a forged cheque. His death, however, is just one example of the ongoing systemic racism in America where black people find themselves being killed during encounters with white police officers.
Protests have taken place in the U.S. following his death, with at least 1,600 people arrested in 22 cities as some demonstrations turned violent. President Donald Trump has threatened to deploy the military to any state which does not take aggressive action against rioting as protests over Floyd’s death heighten.