This story was originally posted on HuffPost UK
Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol have torn down the controversial statue of a slave trader and rolled it into the River Avon, as thousands of people marched through the city in protest against police brutality following the death of George Floyd.
The memorial to Edward Colston, who made his fortune in the slave trade in the 1600s, has stood in the city since 1895 but in recent years has been the subject of a 1,000-strong petition to have it removed.
On Sunday demonstrators took matter into their own hands, tying a rope around the head of the statue and pulling it to the ground.
It was then rolled from the city centre and dumped unceremoniously in the River Avon.
Colston’s legacy has proved hugely divisive as while his money was derived largely from the slave trade, who used much of it to set up charitable foundations some of which survive to this day.
Earlier, protestor John McAllister, 71, tore down black bin bags used to hide the statue to denounce it in front of fellow protesters.
He told the PA news agency: “It says ‘erected by the citizens of Bristol, as a memorial to one of the most virtuous and wise sons of this city’.
“The man was a slave trader. He was generous to Bristol but it was off the back of slavery and it’s absolutely despicable. It’s an insult to the people of Bristol.”
In Bristol, thousands marched through the city centre after a crowd of at least 5,000 packed into the College Green area to hear from speakers and hold an eight-minute silence.
Many protesters wore masks and gloves, but the majority were unable to adhere to the two-metre social distancing guidance and were pressed against one another in the city’s narrow streets.
Speaking from the plinth upon which Colston’s statues used to stand, one protester told the crowd: “It’s all well and good every two or three years shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ but how are you actually going to change what’s going on on this earth”
“We have to start by educating ourselves and our children, education is power. Violence will never change anything. We need to teach our little children for the future.”
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter