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Over it goes: could there be any more clear ‘down with racism’ demand than the toppling of the statue to slaver Edward Colston in Bristol?

Having been born in Bristol, This Writer is aware of the unsavoury slaver history of Edward Colston, and the reverence in which he has been held has confused me for years.

But, being part of a Bristol family, it was hard to criticise him directly. Many of us have historical links with slavery and until earlier this week, I had believed that my family had such links.

Apparently I was mistaken. A BBC documentary about former Mayor John Kerle Haberfield (a great-(many times)-uncle revealed that he had not been involved with the slave trade and nor were any other of my family on that side. It’s possible that other ancestors were, although I have no evidence to suspect it.

I attended St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School, where around a fifth of the pupils were members of Colston House, named after the slaver. The school changed the house name last year (2019) in favour of African-American female mathematician Katherine Johnson. I was a member of Francombe House, which was less controversially named after a former head teacher of the school.

Campaigners have been working to end the veneration of the slave trader Colston, who ran the Royal Africa Company that enslaved around 12,000 children, for many decades. My understanding is that calls to tear down the statue of Colston were taking place 40 years ago, at least.

Read more about him here:

(Historians may also find this interesting:)

Well, yesterday it finally happened.

Public feeling against racism boiled over during a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration prompted by the death of George Floyd in the United States, and after years of campaigning to get rid of the Grade II listed (why was it Grade II listed?) statue, people decided to tear it down themselves and throw it into the River Avon – in a manner reminiscent of the way Colston himself would throw unruly slaves – weighed down with chains – into the sea during slaving voyages.

Satirically, Google Maps sprang into action, providing at least one element of humour:

Police have said they are treating the incident as an act of criminal damage, which they are investigating. This has given some people another opportunity for satire:

How will the people of Bristol replace the statue? It seems some have ideas already:

Personally, I don’t think a statue to a Sheffield group, in Bristol, would particularly please the people of either city.

I really don’t think this would be appropriate, either:

Maybe in Islington.

Perhaps most revealing has been the reaction of different public figures to what is a clear act of vandalism, even if the reasoning behind it is supportable.

Priti Patel’s response should be shocking, considering her own racial background:

As should Sajid Javid’s:

And, indeed, some members of the Labour Party have questions to answer:

Others take a different view:

If you’re confused about “structural” racism:

Of course, it’s not unknown for statues to be torn down if people and/or their deeds fall out of favour with the public.

You won’t see a statue glorifying Nazism or anybody who supported that movement in Germany!

And in Russia and Iraq, statues of Communist leaders and Saddam Hussein (respectively) were torn down after those regimes were toppled.

Even yesterday, the toppling-in-effigy of Colston wasn’t unique:

And back in the UK, people are eyeing possible future candidates for the Colston treatment:

And of course the situation has provided more opportunities for right-wing idiots to make fools of themselves:

We are left with the overwhelming impression that the removal of the Colston statue was right, no matter how it was achieved.

But we live in a country where somebody may go to prison for making it happen. If you don’t think that’s right, you need to be thinking about what you are going to do about it.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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