What happens when activists replace a ‘problem’ statue with one of a BLMer?

What happens when activists replace a ‘problem’ statue with one of a BLMer?
Jen Reid: We hardly knew ye (Image: Twitter screen grab)

By K. Walker

Whoops. It looks like unilaterally tearing something down and then putting something else in its place doesn’t fly well with local lawmakers. Go figure.

The statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was defaced, removed from its plinth, and tossed into the harbor during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, U.K. Colston was born in Bristol to a wealthy merchant family in 1636. In 1680, he became a slave trader with the Royal African Company, where it’s believed that during his time there, 84,000 African men, women, and children were transported as slaves. That isn’t what the bronze statue of Colston was honoring, however. In 1895, the memorial was placed in the city center in his honor because Colston was a philanthropist who bequeathed his wealth to local Bristol charities upon his death.

There stood the statue for 125 years until it was yanked from the plinth on June 7 and shoved into the drink.

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The Colston statue was removed from the harbor on June 11. It will be placed in a museum along with some of the BLM protests signs.

In any event, after the statue was removed, Jen Reid, one of the protester, stood on the now-empty Colston plinth and raised her fist. She was photographed and the image caught the eye of local artist, Marc Quinn, who created a resin and steel statue of Reid.

The artist then directed a team of ten people to erect the statue on top of the still-empty plinth in the early morning hours of July 15.

But, by 5 a.m. on July 16, the new BLM protester statue was ignominiously carted away by the city in a recycling truck.

The Bristol Post reports that city officials say that the statue will be “held at a museum for the artist to collect or donate to their collection.”

Protesters with signs were on hand to shout down the removal of the new statue. That doesn’t surprise me but the fact that any of these people is capable of being awake and out of bed by 5 a.m. does. Maybe they should think about getting jobs.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said in a statement:

My relentless commitment is to build a city for all Bristolians, with all our differences.

To this end, the future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol. This will be critical to building a city that is home to those who are elated at the statue being pulled down, those who sympathise with its removal but are dismayed at how it happened and those who feel that in its removal, they’ve lost a piece of the Bristol they know and therefore themselves.


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