A 100-year-old bronze statue commemorating a 17th-century slave trader now lies somewhere at the bottom of the River Avon in Bristol, England.
Over 10,000 people signed a petition calling on the Bristol City Council to have the statue of merchant slave trader Edward Colston removed, but the request wasn’t being satisfactorily met. On Sunday (June 7), a few protestors moved on their own accord in its removal.
The disgraced statue can be seen in video across social media being dismantled from its base with rope by protesters, then cast away into the river. An investigation to identify those involved in the incident has been launched by authorities.
“...they knelt on the neck of the slave trader Colston’s statue for 8 minutes for George Floyd and then they threw Colston into the river,” one Twitter user pointed out. “The Middle Passage slave trader. Drowned.”
Wowwwww they knelt on the neck of the slave trader Colston’s statue for 8 minutes for George Floyd and then they threw Colston into the river. The Middle Passage slave trader. Drowned.— siddhartha mitter (@siddhmi) June 7, 2020
1. Bristol, you’re not fucking around
2. Everything is EVERYTHING https://t.co/jfQyDfLylv
Edward Colston’s company transported more than 100,000 enslaved Africans across the Atlantic between 1672 and 1689. More than 20,000 died during the journey. Their bodies were tossed overboard. https://t.co/8Wrv1hqkSM— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) June 7, 2020
As part of the Royal African company, Colston traded over 100,000 West African men, women, and children to the Caribbean and North America. The city of Bristol benefited financially from this as much as a city benefiting from trading spices would have.
Since 1895, the statue has stood at the center of Bristol and the slave trader has an ominous presence throughout the city. Colston’s existence graces significant landmarks, streets, schools and is even the name of a sweet treat called the Colston bun.
In response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, people across the globe have taken to the streets in protest against police brutality. Along the way, statues symbolizing the celebration of the slave trade and racist figures have come tumbling down.
Among the statues removed are a fixture of Philadelphia’s former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo from the city’s Municipal Services Building and a 115-year-old Confederate Soldiers & Sailors Monument in Birmingham. Additionally, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has committed to taking down Richmond’s controversial memorials of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.