UK slave trader’s statue toppled in anti-racism protests

LONDON: British protesters tore down the statue of a renowned slave trader on Sunday (Jun 7) and threw it in the harbour on the second day of weekend protests against George Floyd's death.

Footage shot by a witness showed a few dozen people tie a rope around the neck of Edward Colston's statue and bring it to the ground in the southwestern city of Bristol.

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They then stamped on it for a few minutes before carrying it and heaving it into the harbour with a great cheer.

Colston's face got splashed with red paint at one point.

"Today I witness history," eye witness William Want tweeted.

"The statue of Edward Colston, a Bristol slave trader, was torn down, defaced, and thrown in the river. #BlackLivesMatter."

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But interior minister Priti Patel called the toppling "utterly disgraceful" and the city's police promised to carry out an investigation.

"That speaks to the acts of public disorder that actually have now become a distraction from the cause which the people are actually protesting about," Patel told Sky News.

"That is a completely unacceptable act and speaks to the vandalism, again, as we saw yesterday in London."

The London police reported making 29 arrests during a day of largely peaceful protests on Saturday that included a few scuffles with officers protecting the government district around Downing Street.

READ: Thousands join Black Lives Matter protest outside US Embassy in London

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees struck a more conciliatory tone than the one adopted by Patel.

"I know the removal of the Colston Statue will divide opinion, as the statue itself has done for many years," the mayor said in a statement.

"However, it's important to listen to those who found the statue to represent an affront to humanity."

'GOOD'

Local police chief Andy Bennett said around 10,000 people attended Bristol's "Black Lives Matter" demonstration on Sunday.

Protesters display a banner atop a bus stop after attending a demonstration outside the US Embassy. (AFP/ISABEL INFANTES)

"The vast majority of those who came to voice their concerns about racial inequality and injustice did so peacefully and respectfully," the police chief said.

"However, there was a small group of people who clearly committed an act of criminal damage in pulling down a statue near Bristol Harbourside."

Colston grew up in a wealthy merchant family and joined a company in 1680 that had a monopoly on Read More – Source