Bristol: Defendant acquitted after falling from slave trader statue

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Four suspects acquitted after falling from slave trader statue

Sage Willoughby, Jake Scouse, Milo Bunsford and Ryan Graham (left) celebrate in court after their acquittal

Sage Willoughby, Jake Scouse, Milo Bunsford and Ryan Graham (left) celebrate in court after their acquittal

Source: dpa / Ben Birchall

Four people have been charged after a statue fell from its pedestal into the Bristol Harbor Dock. But they will not be punished, as a British court has now decided. The defendants appeared at trial in T-shirts that had been designed for them by sectarian artist Banksy.

IIn the trial to bring down a statue of a slave trader in Great Britain, four defendants were acquitted. A court on Wednesday acquitted the three men and a woman, aged between 21 and 36, of alleging property damage. The defendants admitted the act on the sidelines of a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol in June 2020, but denied that their act was criminal and pleaded their innocence.

As he left the courtroom, acquitted Ryan Graham thanked everyone who demonstrated “in the name of equality” at the June 2020 rally. The four defendants appeared wearing T-shirts designed by Bristol-born street artist Banksy to support them.

Protesters overturned the long-controversial statue of slave trader Edward Colston by protesters on June 7, 2020 and threw it into the city’s harbor basin.

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“The truth is that the defendants should not have been charged,” said Raj Chadha, the defendant’s attorney, Jake Skoss. “It is a shame that Bristol City Council did not remove the statue of slave trader Edward Colston, and it is also a shame that they supported law enforcement after that.”

Conservative MP Colston was wealthy from the slave trade. He is said to have sold about 100,000 slaves from West Africa to the Caribbean and the United States between 1672 and 1689, before using his fortune to advance the development of Bristol, which for a long time earned him a reputation as a philanthropist.

Famous British organizations have apologized for their past behaviour

In the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, a new phase of coming to terms with the country’s colonial past has begun. Several leading British organizations such as the Bank of England or the Lloyd’s, which had secured slave ships, apologized. Authorities such as the City of London decided to remove statues associated with slavery.

In Bristol, two schools and an event hall have been renamed Colston. Authorities recovered the underwater statue of Colston, and a year after it fell, it was the centerpiece of a special exhibition in Bristol dedicated to creating the UK’s Black Lives Matter movement.

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