Edward Colston statue fished out of Bristol Harbour following Black Lives Matter protests

Bristol native was 17th-century slave trader 

Matt Mathers
Thursday 11 June 2020 10:11 BST
Edward Colston statue fished out of Bristol harbour

A statue of slave trader Edward Colston that was toppled during protests and thrown into Bristol Harbour has been fished out by authorities.

Black Lives Matter protesters pulled down the statue during demonstrations on Sunday before throwing it into the water.

Bristol City Council retrieved the statue early on Thursday morning because the city has a “working harbour”.

It will now be taken to a secure location and cleaned before being placed in one of the city’s museums, the council said.

“We’ve had a diver down there who attached the ropes to crane it out of the water and took it away,” Ray Barnett, head of collections and archives at Bristol City Council, said.

“The ropes that were tied around him, the spray paint added to him, is still there so we’ll keep him like that.”

Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees had previously confirmed the statue would be exhibited in a museum, alongside placards from the Black Lives Matter protest.

A decision on how the statue’s empty plinth will be used will be decided through democratic consultation, he said.

The statue was pulled down on Sunday amid worldwide protests triggered by the death of George Floyd.

Floyd died after a white police officer held him down by pressing his knee into his neck for almost nine minutes in Minneapolis on 25 May.

The statue’s retrieval comes after a senior Labour MP said its forced removal was the result of years of frustration with the democratic process.

Speaking on ITV’s Peston on Wednesday, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said people decided to take action over the memorial because they felt their voices on racial issues were not being heard.

She said: “Why was that statue removed in the way that it was removed?

“Because for 20 years, protesters and campaigners had used every democratic lever at their disposal, petitions, meetings, protests, trying to get elected politicians to act, and they couldn’t reach a consensus and they couldn’t get anything done.

“Now this is reflective of what has happened to people of colour in this country and across the world for a very long time.

“We’ve had seven reviews into racial discrimination in this country in the last three years alone, and very few of those recommendations have been acted on.

“That is why people are so frustrated, and that’s the question we should be asking ourselves, is why is it so difficult for so many people to actually be heard and to pull the democratic leaders to get the democratic change that they need?”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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