Four anti-racist demonstrators were exonerated from criminal responsibility for tearing down a statue of a 17th-century slave trader during the “Black Man’s Life” protests in southwest England
LONDON-On Wednesday, a statue of a 17th-century slave trader was torn down and four anti-racist demonstrators were cleared of criminal damage during a “Black Man’s Fate” protest in southwest England on Wednesday.
On June 7, 2020, protesters used ropes to pull down the bronze statue of Edward Colston and dump it in the port of Bristol. The demonstrations and dumping are part of the global liquidation of racism and slavery caused by the death of George Floyd, a black American, in the hands of the Minneapolis police.
As the jury acquitted 30-year-old Ryan Graham, 26-year-old Milo Ponsford, 22-year-old Sage Willoughby, and 33-year-old Jack Scus, the Royal Court of Bristol A public gallery full of people burst into enthusiastic cheers.
“This is a victory for Bristol, a victory for racial equality, and a victory for anyone who wants to stand on the right side of history,” Willoughby said.
Graham, Ponceford, and Willoughby were filmed on CCTV. They were passing on the ropes used to pull the statue down, while Skus was accused of planning to push it into the port.
All four admitted that they were involved, but denied that their behavior was a crime, claiming that the statue itself was a hate crime against the people of Bristol.
When the verdict was read out, they breathed a sigh of relief and embraced the many supporters waiting outside the court when they were released.
These four people received high-profile help in their case. The elusive street artist Banksy designed a limited-edition T-shirt and promised to raise funds for their cause.
“The fact is that the defendant should not be prosecuted,” Raj Chada, representing Skuse, said in a statement after the verdict.
Chada added: “The Bristol City Council did not dismantle the statue of Edward Colston, the slave trader who caused this offense to the people of Bristol. It is equally shameful that they support the prosecution of these defendants.”
Colston was a businessman in the 17th century who made his fortune by transporting enslaved Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas by ships in Bristol. His funds supported schools and charities in Bristol, 120 miles (195 kilometers) southwest of London.
The Bristol authorities salvaged the Colston statue from the harbour, and then displayed it in the city’s museum along with placards of the Negro’s Demonstration.
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