Over it goes: the toppling of the Colston statue, in June 2020.
A jury has cleared four people of criminal damage, despite their admission that they took the statue of Edward Colston off its plinth during a protest in 2020.
And I reckon I know why.
To remind you: on June 7 last year, during a protest march involving 10,000 Bristolians that was triggered by the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement, a statue of the local slaver Edward Colston was torn down and thrown into the nearby city docks.
The statue had been hugely controversial for decades because of Colston’s history as a trafficker in human slaves. Campaigners have made many pleas to the City Council for its removal – only for them to fall on deaf ears as the sculpture remained in place.
Four people – Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, Sage Willoughby, 22, and Jake Skuse, 33 – were made to face a criminal damage trial at Bristol Crown Court for their alleged parts in what happened to the statue.
But criminal damage is a crime that can only be committed on property belonging to other people.
Bristol City Council – an organisation that exists entirely to represent the people of that city and carry out their wishes – was responsible for the statue. So did the statue, in fact, belong to the people of Bristol?
As we’ve seen, people in Bristol had been trying to get rid of it for decades because it depicts a slaver and – from all accounts – a murderer.
So the defendants may have been entirely within their rights to tear down that statue because it was theirs to tear down if they so pleased, in the absence of a response – that represented the will of the majority – from the council.
I was also glad to see that the protestations of prosecutor William Hughes QC – that the fact that Colston was a slave trader was “irrelevant” to the issues that had to be decided in the case – turned out to be, themselves, irrelevant.
The question that remains after the trial is, why didn’t Bristol City Council comply with the wishes of the vocal majority who had demanded its removal for many years previously? If that had happened, the statue would not have been present to infuriate protesters against the murder of another black man in 2020.
One more point: this is proof that ordinary people can still challenge the Establishment and win, if faced with trial by a jury of their peers and natural justice is allowed to run its course.
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.
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