From Alternative Bristol
Solidarity with the Colston Statue Topplers – Events & Background
4 Defendants face their 1st date in Court on charges of criminal damage, for their alleged involvement of the toppling of the 125 year old statue of Edward Colston, whilst a huge Black Lives Matter protest was taking place in Bristol on the 7th June 2020. Many hundreds of protesters participated in the toppling of the Colston statue, and then dragging it to the harbour before sending Colston to swim with the fishes – the same fate as that experienced by so many enslaved Africans on the transatlantic slaving ships, a business the slave-trader and former Tory MP Edward Colston, and others, got very rich from.
Initial plans by campaign organisers & supporters for a solidarity protest on 25th January outside Bristol Magistrates Court (Court info) have been scuppered by covid-19. The risk of infection; the high likelihood of dispersal orders and fixed penalty notices (£200) or arrests for supporters; and fines of upto £10,000.00 for identified organisers; and the subsequent media frenzy about ‘illegal’ protests would distract from the Defendant’s case – it should be noted this is just a Plea Hearing, where defendants plead Not Guilty, or Guilty, and if Not Guilty a Trial is expected to follow, possibly as far away as 2022?! So events have now moved online:
9.30-10.00am: see this FB eve – a 30minute teach-in & spoken words on a livestream, with an 8 minute silence at 9.45am to remember the 84,500 people whose kidnap and enslavement Colston helped to fund and organise during his time with the Royal Africa Company. As well as taking time to celebrate the enslaved whose many rebellions brought about abolition.
9.30am-10.00pm – please share solidarity photos and post to the FB Event or to your social media using #GladColstonsGone, saying why you’re glad Colston’s statue is no longer on our streets. And keep checking back for updates/more details. Feel free to drop banners, paint murals/slogans, go chalking, or just do your thing – DIY.
7-10pm: Livestream of local films via the Cube Cinema from 7-9pm, then panel discussion 9-10pm with Lawrence Hoo, Michael Jenkins and Rob Mitchell – chaired by Councillor Cleo Lake.
Info & tickets (free but donations to campaign welcome!) via Cube Cinema or BRHG.
Background: Campaigners in Bristol have spent years trying to tell the truth about Colston, his kind, and their murderous business practices. They have worked to bring an end to the continued memorialisation of Colston in Bristol – the statue, paintings & other monuments, buildings, schools, pubs, street names etc promoting his name are a continued expression of racist oppression & exploitation, perpetuated by Bristol’s white wealthy elites. Because of their classist and racist beliefs, Bristol’s elites, led by the Society of Merchant Venturers (articles), have resisted attempts at change & ignored factual challenges – being forced into only minor reforms & adjustments…although since 7th June Closton’s name has disappeared at a rapid rate! The protesters on 7th June clearly decided Colston’s towering racist presence could continue no more, and pulled him down. Well done we say – We All Did It!
For the 25 January & after – get ready & get active – here’s some local links that will provide you with all the info, news & comment you need to get upto speed & involved:
Countering Colston campaign – FB / twitter – @CounterColston / useful links for more reading
All Black Lives Bristol (organisers of 7th June and later protests) – Instagram / FB /
Bristol Radical History Group – articles on Slavery & Resistance / articles on Colston / twitter – @BrisRadHis
Alternative Bristol – articles on Colston & protests / FB / twitter – @Alt_Bristol_
Bristol Cable – articles related to Colston / article looking at reparatory justice
Bristol Post – articles over several years on Colston & related issues – mainly by journalist Tristan Cork
Byline Times (8 June article) – 12 Facts that Prove Black Lives Don’t Matter in Britain
St Paul’s Carnival – scroll down this link here for history resources
The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership – research and analysis of slave-owners & how they benefitted from compensation when slavery abolished
Bristol Defendant Solidarity – Know Your Rights – info & legal support for protesters