Banksy suggests what to do with the toppled Edward Colston statue

9 June 2020, 15:34

The statue was toppled over the weekend and dumped into Bristol's harbour
The statue was toppled over the weekend and dumped into Bristol's harbour. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Banksy has joined the discussion on what to do with the statue of slaver Edward Colston, which is currently sitting at the bottom of Bristol's harbour.

The elusive street artist, themselves a Bristolian, said there was a solution that could satisfy both sides of the debate - for those who miss its presence, and those who don't.

Rather than memorialising the slave trader himself, Banksy said, why not memorialise the moment his statue was torn down?

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"We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down," Banksy wrote on Instagram.

"Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated."

The monument, which once sat in central Bristol to mark Colston's philanthropic efforts, was pulled down over the weekend by Black Lives Matter demonstrators who highlighted his controversial history within the slave trade.

It was later disposed of in Bristol's harbour.

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Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari about the incident, Labour leader Keir Starmer said the statue should have been "taken down a long, long time ago," although he did not agree in the way in which it was carried out.

He added: "You can't, in 21st century Britain, have a slaver on a statue [...]

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"This was a man who was responsible for 100,000 people being moved from Africa to the Caribbean as slaves, including women and children, who were branded on their chests with the name of the company that he ran.

"Of the 100,000 people, 20,000 died en route and they were chucked in the sea."

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson's spokesman said the act of pulling it down was an "unacceptable" act, warning that the police "will want to hold to account those responsible".

He added: "The PM absolutely understands the strength of feeling, but in this country we settle our differences democratically and if people wanted the removal of the statue there are democratic routes which can be followed."