Early this morning, on the first anniversary of the toppling of the slave-trader and former Tory MP Edward Colston from his plinth, the campaign coalition @GladColstonsGone issued the following statement and a press release. Amidst the chatter from policiticans, celebrities and media, it will likely be ignored, not least because it calls for the charges to be dropped against the four Colston Statue Defendants. But we reprint it here in full and unedited, because it’s a collective work of grassroots activists, some of whom have been confronting the reality of Colston and his cheerleaders for many years.

Statement of Support for the Toppling of the Colston Statue & for the Four Colston Defendants

The statue of Edward Colston was toppled in Bristol during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7th 2020. This protest was one of many globally and nationally, in direct response to the brutal murder of a black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police. The Bristol protest was attended by thousands of people. Hundreds can clearly be seen on camera to have been involved in various activities that led to this object being pushed into the harbour. Despite this, authorities have decided to single out four people who are now charged with criminal damage. They await trial in December 2021.

We, the undersigned, support the anti-racist aims of the protests throughout the summer 2020. We abhor the legacies of institutional and structural racism arising from European colonisation and the trafficking, enslavement and transportation of African men, women and children into plantation slavery in the Caribbean and Americas.

We believe that raising the statue of the slave-trader Colston in 1895, some 60 years after the Emancipation Act, and repeatedly ignoring expressions of concerns by citizens, campaigners, and artists, has been deeply damaging to Bristol’s Black community and to our common humanity.

We believe the statue has stood as a monument to the disingenuous way power is wielded, impacting those of African descent adversely and disproportionately in policing, health, housing, education outcomes, job opportunities and life chances.

In contrast, we note the absence in our city centre of any memorials, monuments or plaques that restore to African peoples’ ancestors their dignity and humanity, or that honours the many nameless Africans and indigenous people exploited and murdered by Bristol merchants and ruling elites.

We recognise that this statue has been a point of division for many years and welcome the fact that it no longer stands in our city centre. We do not believe the trial against four people is in the best interests of our city and urge that charges be dropped.

We call for some permanent recognition in our civic spaces of the historical reality of this period, and the creation of a permanent memorial and centre of memory, resistance and renewal to begin a process of understanding, healing, reflection and education.

GladColstonsGone – 7 June 2021

Note: We invite individuals, groups, institutions and campaigns to sign-up in support of this Statement. To support this statement:
– add your or your organisation’s name in a comment to the pinned post of the @GladColstonsGone
FB page.
– message us via @GladColstonsGone on FB
or @gladcolstonsgone on Instagram
– email us at gladcolstonsgone1@gmail.com and we’ll add you.

You can download the Statement as a pdf: Statement-GladColstonsGone
The Statement was announced in a Press Release this morning. Again we reprint this unedited. It includes two useful quotes.

Colston Statement – Press Release 7th June 2021
From GladColstonsGone

On the first anniversary of the toppling of the Colston statue, we are Glad Colston’s Gone from his pedestal.

We recognise that this statue has been a point of division for many years and welcome the fact that it no longer stands in our city centre.

We believe that raising the statue of the slave-trader Colston in 1895, some 60 years after the Emancipation Act, and repeatedly ignoring expressions of concerns by citizens, campaigners, and artists, has been deeply damaging to Bristol’s Black community and to our common humanity.

The Countering Colston Campaign says: “If local government and city institutions had cared about systematic racial inequalities in the past, Bristol wouldn’t be where and what it is today. Drop the Colston statue damage charges, let’s attend to the real damages of inequalities and racial injustices in our midst.”

We do not believe the trial against four people is in the best interests of our city and urge that charges be dropped.

Sam Elliot from Bristol Defendant Solidarity – legal support says: “The charges are divisive and vindictive. We cannot have a ‘conversation’ or ‘consultation’ whilst some of the architects of that consultation have been involved with the criminal justice system in persecuting protesters involved in the toppling of Colston.”

We support the anti-racist aims of the protests throughout the summer 2020. We abhor the legacies of institutional and structural racism arising from European colonisation and the trafficking, enslavement and transportation of African men, women and children into plantation slavery in the Caribbean and Americas.

We invite individuals, groups, institutions & campaigns to sign up in support of our Statement – see attached/or below.

Notes for editors, readers & others:
1. The statue of Edward Colston was erected in 1895 by a tiny clique of wealthy Bristol businessmen. It was toppled during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on 7 June 2020 attended by over 10,000 people. Many were involved in pulling the statue down. But just six people were issued Conditional Cautions by A&S Police in the summer of 2020, whilst just four people were charged with criminal damage by the CPS in December 2020.
2. Bristol Council provided a statement to A&S Police in late June 2020 that facilitated the start of the Police’s investigation.
3. Link FB page – GladColstonsGone

4. Link website – Countering Colston Campaign

5. Link twitter – Bristol Defendant Solidarity

6. Link website – all BRHG Edward Colston articles

7. Link to crowdfunder – #GladColstonsGone! Bristol Topplers’ Defence Fund!

You can download the Press release as a pdf: Statement-PressRelease

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