SLAVERY PROTEST SPUN BY COLSTON’S SCHOOL AND MEDIA

Headteacher Alistair “Snooty” Perry from COLSTON GIRLS SCHOOL recently created a media storm after sending a letter to parents suggesting that pupils had been “approached by strangers in a forthright manner.

He went on to say that his school would be “reviewing our policies for student movement around the local area, including Year 11 leaving the school at lunchtime” after a protest at the annual ‘celebrations’ for slave-trader EDWARD COLSTON on 7 November at BRISTOL CATHEDRAL.

Since then the national and local media – led by the idle Guardian scribbler STEVEN MORRIS who appeared to phone in some South West News Service copy to head office – have spun the story with claims that:

  • ‘Protesters target girls’ and ‘accost’ them in the street (The Times)
  • ‘Schoolgirls are being warned about wearing their uniforms in public’ (The Daily Mail, The Sun)
  • ‘Campaigners have also mounted demonstrations outside the school’ (Nazi Post)

All are far from the truth and there’s been no response from Colston School who began the whole affair with a ridiculous scaremongering letter to parents suggesting that their children were in danger.

The protestors have pointed out in a statement that the leafleting outside the Cathedral was in response to last year’s ‘celebrations’ of slave-trader Colston. When the  BISHOP OF BRISTOL claimed that Colston had ‘lived a life of significance’ [and there] ‘may be still some SPECULATION on some of the circumstances around his business roots right here’.

Speculation? The educational leaflets given out by protestors simply told the history of Colston after BISHOP BONKERS had failed to tell the whole truth to school children forced to attend the ‘celebration’ the previous year.

Here is the statement from the protestors:

PROTEST OUTSIDE BRISTOL CATHEDRAL AT COLSTON COMMEMORATIONS INSIDE THE CATHEDRAL

Several newspapers published articles on 17 November about children from a Colston school in Bristol, being accosted. This may relate to events 10 days earlier, where there was a public protest outside Bristol Cathedral on 7 November, aimed at the Colston commemorations going on inside the cathedral.

We refute strongly that children were accosted on 7 November. We believe the school have overreacted to events of 7 November 2015 by unduly alarming parents and children and being economical with the truth. Inside the Cathedral, whilst preparations were being undertaken to mark Colston’s Founder’s Day attended by Colston girls school, we were protesting outside.

At the time of my arrival there were 6 of us. Our protest entailed distributing leaflets headed:  ‘WHY WE ARE PROTESTING OUTSIDE TODAY’ that explained our presence, one of us holding a lighted candle. Our presence and activities were always in a visible public space with staff present.

Shortly, another 6 joined us. Among us: a retired teacher, a security guard, a historian, a grandparent who had dropped off a child to the ceremony, a teacher, three artists, a mother with a toddler in a buggy and a former student of Colston Girls. We are representative of the Bristol population whom the children live among.

We believe the teachers only panicked because they did not have a risk assessment in place that anticipated protest. Had the staff that were present with the children read the leaflets (here), that they were so quick to take off the children, they would have realised, it was the Merchant Venturer’s commemoration of Charter day and the Bishop’s comments in the Cathedral in 2014 that brought us as individuals to protest outside the Cathedral.

We found students bright, attentive and curious. Many were entering the Cathedral with little understanding of who Colston was or indeed why they were there. Others were keen to learn more and asked for leaflets.

Education takes place everywhere. We were not outside any school or in the street harassing children. Our aim was to protest at a ceremony in a significant religious and spiritual place of worship, ‘celebrating’ a controversial historical figure without acknowledging his direct involvement in the propagation of slavery and his amassed wealth from slave trading activities.

Neither did the ceremony seek to honour the memory and suffering of Africans and others exploited by the slave trade, creating memorialisation dissent in the Bristol community. This is what we are seeking to publicly highlight and change.

Why is this controversial?

The spreading of panic and fear in children and parents through the media glosses over public dissent and smothers the truth.

We are open to meeting with the Colston’s School, the Bishop and the Cathedral for discussion on a way forward.

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