'History has been made' - Bristolians react to toppling of Edward Colston statue

8 June 2020, 14:09

The statue of Edward Colston was torn down during protests in Bristol on Sunday
The statue of Edward Colston was torn down during protests in Bristol on Sunday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The people of Bristol have told LBC News what they think about Edward Colston's statue being torn down and thrown into the harbour.

The Grade-II listed bronze statue of the slave trader, which used to stand on Colston Avenue, was pulled down on Sunday by Black Lives Matter protesters.

Crowds cheered as the controversial monument was pulled down by a group who had scaled it before attaching ropes to it and bringing the statue crashing to the ground.

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It was then rolled to the nearby harbour and pushed into the water to further cheers and revelry.

The move has divided the country, with some saying history should not be deleted through a "mob mentality," whereas others have celebrated its removal.

Speaking to LBC News, one Bristolian called Chris said he thought it was "good" to see the Edward Colston statue had been toppled.

"It's been a long time coming," he explained.

"There's been petitions going around for a long time about it. It's clear it needed to be put into a different context, you know maybe a museum?

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"I think that should happen definitely. I think if they retrieve it from the water it'll be even more interesting for the museum and for a rewrite of history."

He thought a plaque, or something to commemorate what happened on Sunday, should be put on the plinth to replace the statue.

Another resident named Ted said it was "really sad that it had to happen this way" and was "shocked" to see the monument brought down.

However, he thought it was "inevitable" and did not believe the council would agree to take it down.

"It is a thing of vandalism, but I feel like it wouldn't happen any other way," he said.

When asked what should happen to the statue now, he replied: "Inevitably it will have to be fished out and I think it should go into a museum, or it should be just put away that if people want to see it then they can, but definitely not put back."

One man, who did not want to be named, said "history has been made" after the statue was thrown into the harbour and added he was "happy" that it had been torn down.

He said he wants it to be left at the bottom of the water as a "symbolic" gesture.

"Through the populous coming together, a lot of people came out, and putting it into the water is perhaps a poetic justice as to what really needed to have happened to the statue," he explained.

"When I saw the statue coming down, it had so much meaning for us black people who have been subjugated and who have suffered so much and continue to suffer.

"To see that man with that sort of history, a slave trader, who used to throw black people overboard on ships for economic reasons, to finally see him being put over into the water, I just felt a sense of easing, something to say we can now move forward together united and trying to lead better lives.

"It was such a negative symbol here within the city where people used to use it to talk about how we were enslaved. It had a lot of pain for some people who understood what the statue meant."

He added: "Earlier on, a lady came up to me and she just said 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what happened to your people.' We were just talking together and there just seemed to be a sense of healing and coming together.

"I'm really happy to see that people are coming together, reflecting and thinking about where we are now as a society and where we need to go together for the future."