Following his new work to support the Black Lives Matter movement, Banksy returns to Instagram to share another piece and proposal surrounding the controversial and now-toppled statue of Edward Colston in Bristol. Colston was a 17th-century slave trader that was responsible for having transported over 80,000 enslaved individuals between 1672 and 1689. This past Sunday, protestors took down the statue of Colston from its pedestal, located in the center of Bristol, and sank it to the bottom of the Avon River.
The elusive street artist and fellow Bristol-native now asks: “What should we do with the empty plinth in the middle of Bristol?” The artist expanded upon his suggestion, expressing: “Here’s an idea that caters for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t. We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”
While Banksy’s post is receiving many positive responses, the removal of Colston’s statue is also fueling conversations on other public works that memorialize controversial figures in Britain. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, made an official address to evaluate of all London statues that have ties to slavery. BBC News recently reported that another statue of a slaveholder by the name of Robert Milligan has been vandalized and removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands.
In the United States, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently announced plans to remove the statue of 130-year-old statue of Robert E. Lee — the general of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Northam’s plan to bring down the controversial landmark comes amid the recent Black Lives Matter protests that have taken place nationwide in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.