Bristol. UK. Yesterday, a mob of angry Bristolians finally knocked the statue of Edward Colston – one of the country’s most prolific if little known slave traders – off his city centre perch and unceremoniously dumped the ugly piece bronze junk in the city docks as an ecstatic crowd cheered on.
Originally published by Class War.
Read the full edition of Class War Daily Monday 8 June 2020: here (pdf file).
Many Bristolians described it as “the best day of my life” and expressed relief that this blatant symbol of racism and capitalist accumulation at whatever the cost has now gone from sight forever. Even the copper wheeled out for the media, Avon and Somerset’s Supt Andy Bennett said the statue “had caused the black community a lot of angst over the last few years and I understand why it happened.”
Pressure to do something about the statue of Colston, a boss at the Royal Africa Company and later at Bristol’s still thriving and influential Society of Merchant Venturers has been building for years. But civic authorities, specifically the city council, the Church of England and the MerchantVenturers, have dragged their feet, delivering ridiculous excuses for Colston and the continuing presence of their offensive monument to slavery in the heart of Bristol.
As recently as 2015 the Bishop of Bristol told a congregation of children at Bristol Cathedral, forced to attend a Colston
Commemoration as they attend Merchant Venturer schools in the city, that there’s “still some speculation on some of the circumstances around his business roots.”
Total bollocks. Written records tell us Colston was directly responsible for the enslavement of over 84,000 Africans
(including 12,000 children) of whom over 19,000 died en route to the Caribbean. What’s open to speculation in that?
Tempers over Colston flared again last year in the city when an effort by the city’s black elected mayor, Marvin Rees, to get a ‘corrective plaque’ placed on the statue collapsed. The original plaque drawn up by local historians was handed to shadowy council officials and the Merchant Venturers and gutted to the point where the historians withdrew support and the gutless Rees let the issue go. It had become clear to most Bristolians that the only way to get rid of this stain on their city was to remove the statue themselves and this weekend finally provided the opportunity.
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