British merchant Edward Colston was first remembered as a great benefactor to the city of Bristol, a man who bequeathed his fortune to charities and civic institutions.
In recent decades, his legacy has been reappraised: after all, Colston was a slave trader, who built his wealth in the 17th Century through the sale of human life.
From today onwards, he’ll be remembered as a big soggy bitch, thanks to the protestors who toppled his statue and rolled it into the harbour.
After using ropes to pull the bronze figure to the ground, protestors took the opportunity to kneel on its neck – echoing the death of black man George Floyd, who died last month after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Footage from the scene shows a large group of demonstrators rolling the statue through the streets, before lifting it over a guard rail and dropping it into the water below.
SPLOSHITY BYE YOU DEAD RACIST pic.twitter.com/c8nTxkAlRP
— Momentum Bristol (@MomentumBristol) June 7, 2020
Police have reportedly opened an investigation into the incident, with Superintendent Andy Bennett of the Bristol, Avon and Somerset Police claiming protestors “clearly committed an act of criminal damage.”
Since the statue’s journey into the drink, protestors have repurposed the remaining plinth as a site of remembrance for the lives taken by racist violence.
Where Colston used to be. God I love my city pic.twitter.com/XiVtB6Njvy
— Missyy (@MissyyReed) June 7, 2020
— Martin Booth (@beardedjourno) June 7, 2020
While Colston’s statue is now resting underwater, some onlookers believe the former site of his memorial should be preserved, as-is, as a contemporary reflection on slavery, bigotry, and injustice.
Image: Ben Birchall / PA Images / Getty Images
this is beautiful. honestly, finding some way to preserve this would educate so many more than Colston's statue ever did https://t.co/9EoW9Q5aci
— tyron, the creator (@TyronWilson) June 7, 2020