Edward Colston: Four Charged Over Toppling Of Slave Trader Statue

The memorial to the slave trader was torn down and dumped in Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest six months ago.

Police have charged four people with criminal damage after a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down and tossed into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest six months ago.

Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 32, and Sage Willoughby, 21, are all due to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on January 25.

The toppling of Colston’s statue on June 7 sparked a new debate on the legacy of the slave trade and colonialism in Britain, with renewed emphasis placed on removing other references to notorious slave traders from buildings, streets, schools, universities and other institutions across the nation.

The reckoning became a major element of the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK, and campaigns such as The Black Curriculum continue to fight to address the lack of Black history taught in British schools.

After being fiercely criticised by home secretary Priti Patel for failing to intervene as Colston’s statue was torn down, Avon and Somerset Constabulary released the pictures of fifteen people they were looking to speak to in relation to the incident.

While a number of media organisations shared the appeal, HuffPost UK chose not to amid accusations from Bristolians that police had risked the safety of protesters by publishing their pictures, putting them at risk of far-right attacks amid an atmosphere of deep division over the topic.

At least two monuments to Black Bristolians were damaged in the wake of June 7, with bleach poured over a statue of Jamaican-born poet, playwright and actor Alfred Fagon in the St Pauls area of the city.

Days later the grave of Scipio Africanus, an enslaved man who was brought to Bristol in the 18th century, was smashed in two. “Put Colston’s statue back or things will really heat up” read a message scrawled near the vandalised headstone.

Ros Martin, a Bristol-based writer and artist and a member of Countering Colston, told HuffPost UK in June: “In Bristol it [the Colston statue] very clearly represents to me an oppression – it’s about privilege. It’s about the entrenched inequalities that don’t shift in a city and the disingenuous way in which on one hand it’s a very wealthy city whilst also having some very high levels of deprivation.

“You would have thought that in a city like Bristol there are a lot of things that they [the police] would have to occupy their time – for example the increase in domestic violence through lockdown.


What's Hot