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BLM Protestors Who Toppled Colston Statue Are Found Not Guilty

The graffitied monument has since been moved to Bristol’s M Shed museum.

The four people accused of toppling the divisive Edward Colston statue have been cleared of all charges.

Back in June 2020, a group of protestors in Bristol toppled a monument depicting the former English merchant-turned-philanthropist, who was heavily involved in the African slave trade. Unlike the many Black Lives Matter protests in the US, which similarly saw statues damaged, four people from the Colston toppling were accused of causing criminal damage.

As videos went viral, even the elusive street artist Banksy got involved, offering to sell t-shirts in support of the defendants. Those tees, by the way, were originally sold for £25 GBP / $33 USD and are now reselling for nearly $4,000 USD on eBay.

According to the Guardian, Rhian Graham, Jake Skuse, Sage Willoughby and Milo Ponsford, also known as the Colston 4, did not deny that they toppled the statue into the Bristol harbor, however, they argued that their actions were justifiable due to how offensive the monument is. “I thought that a statue that celebrates a figure such as Colston was disgraceful, and offensive to the people of Bristol,” Ponsford told jurors.

Nonetheless, prosecutors claimed that the fact that Colston was a slave trader was “wholly irrelevant” and that this case was about the “rule of law.” Ultimately, the 10-day trial concluded earlier today with Judge Peter Blair QC clearing the defendants of all charges. The Colston 4 sighed with relief after hearing the verdict and proceeded in hugging a group of supporters who stood outside the courthouse.

As for the graffitied Colston statue, the monument has since been moved to Bristol’s M Shed museum, where it is currently being exhibited. Historian David Olusoga commends the museum’s efforts, stating that it is “the most important artifact you could select in Britain if you wanted to tell the story of Britain’s tortuous relationship with its role in the Atlantic slave trade.”

Elsewhere, DRIFT will Unveil “Moments of Connection” at MK&G.

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