The West of England Branch of the Young Communist League has released a statement condemning prosecutions over the alleged toppling of the statue of a slave trader in Bristol during Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020.
YCL West of England condemns the Crown Prosecution Service in charging Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Jake Skuse, and Sage Willoughby with “criminal damage” relating to their alleged toppling of the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston (a prominent Bristolian slave trader in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade) during the Black Lives Matter protests on 7 June 2020, as part of Bristol’s contribution to the worldwide response to the racialized murder of George Floyd.
The statue, and Colston’s extensive past of monopolised slave trading, had for many years been the subject of ongoing dispute. Numerous lacklustre and generally offensive proposals have been made by Bristol Council and the Society of Merchant Venturers in recent years to reword the statue’s plaque to make mention of Colston’s role in the slave trade, but in the end it was the direct action of a mass of ordinary Bristolians that rightly settled the issue for good.
It is often criticised that the toppling of symbolic and historic statues of racist figures somehow ‘vanishes the past’. Were the actions of 7 June not historic? Have we yet forgotten that grand moment in the history of Bristol in which the people stood no more for racist glorification? How many more have come to know the name and deeds of Edward Colston through this action than through a plaque and pedestal?
The four people above will face trial for their alleged involvement at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on 25 January 2021. YCL West of England Branch stand in firm solidarity with our brothers and sisters in their fight against this, and commit to:
- Attend any demonstration, taking seriously all Covid-19 precautions required at the time, in support of the four.
- Help raise any money required for legal costs in their defence.
- Speak within local working class and community organisations to maximise support for these aims.
All power to the people!
West of England Branch
Young Communist League