The release of the idols upset the debunkers

Ryan Graham, Milo Ponsford, Sage Willoughby and Jake Skuse burst into laughter, presumably in relief, at the verdict. He was found not guilty of opening the statue of the slave ship Edward Colston on June 7, 2020. The pictures of his action were covered all over the world.

Along with dozens of other activists, he toppled this former figure from Bristol, then dragged it half a mile across the water from England to the port of the largest city in the West. The young men explained their gesture with the disgust they felt in 1721 upon seeing a man, believed to have been placed on a pedestal, who made his fortune on the slave trade.

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During the trial, the four defendants never denied the facts. But all of them inspired his own action. , I thought that a statue celebrating a figure like Colston was shameful and disrespectful to the people of Bristol” Milo Ponsford had justified himself. Ryan Graham said he acted “Out of Solidarity” With people of color. For Jake Skuse: “I knew I was right, I knew everyone wanted it. I knew that was what Bristol wanted, that’s what everyone wanted.”

In the eyes of Rishi Willoughby’s lawyer, Liam Walker, “Every accused was on the right side of the story, and I think they were also on the right side of the law. Colston’s actions may be historic, but his reverence in Bristol is no longer there. In such a multicultural and vibrant city, it is [la présence de cette statue] even constitutes a slur”, The jury members therefore agreed with him, perhaps influenced by Master Walker, who reiterated that his decision “Will echo all over the world” and asked them “Being on the Right Side of History”.

In the eyes of public history professor David Olusoga, who testified during the trial, jurors concluded that “The real crime was that the statue of a mass murderer could last for 125 years”. he regards their decision as “A reference point in the difficult and difficult path of this country to recognize all our history, bad and good”.

Conservatives are stepping up to the plate

However, the decision caused almost as much controversy in England as the actions of the four activists. Several Conservative MPs quickly stepped up to the plate. “If you broke the law and caused criminal damage, you should be punished” Tory MP Tom Hunt of Ipswich said. Before going any further: “If the jury is out to ensure that they are punished, that needs to be addressed.”

The former Communities Minister, Robert Jenrick, also doesn’t commit a crime. With such a decision, “If we accept vandalism and criminal damage as acceptable forms of political protest, we undermine the rule of law, which undermines our democracy. They are not. Whatever the intention”.

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For many, the decision will encourage activists of all stripes to demolish idols they consider undesirable. “The statue and statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square have been vandalized in the past by anti-racism protesters, and now there are fears that extremists are encouraged” Another British Conservative MP, Michael, became angry with the manufacturer.

However, we are not there yet. The Tory speaker of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was usually not very helpful, has also tried to placate his colleagues. “One of the glory of this nation is the jury system”, did he announce. The jurors should be free to decide on a particular case on the basis of the facts before them. ,

This case is special. As Kate Williams, professor of history at the University of Reading, recalled at the time of the events, “Bristol had argued with Edward Colston for years, but the conversation went nowhere.” Particularly because of the city’s chosen conservatives and a union of local businessmen who deny that a plaque attached to the statue did not indicate its role in the slave trade in 2018.


Dispute within dispute. Some people on the social network are protesting the decision to be racist in any case, if not racist. The logic is simple: If the defendants were activists of color, they would be convicted. In other words, whites risk nothing for such crimes.

Whatever the color of future defendants, future trials on this type of issue will not necessarily end up on the other side of the channel in the same way. A bill is currently under consideration in parliament that would allow up to ten years’ prison sentence for those involved in damages related to public property, including memorial sites – including statues. “emotional distress” resulting from their action.

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But Britain is still far away. On the contrary, this favorable ruling in favor of the four activists had a luscious effect. Officials from the Topal the Racists website have compiled a list of 78 statues or monuments to be removed across the country. His targets include military personnel and politicians who have played a central role in the legend of the greatness of the United Kingdom, such as Captain Francis Drake, Admiral Nelson, and Prime Ministers William Gladstone and Robert Peel. A program that goes in the direction of the fear of elected conservatives.

Even Cambridge professor Peter Williams is hardly convinced. He is one of the opponents of this type of demand because of the sometimes obstinate behavior of the activists, which gradually permeates academia. “I don’t believe most academics are woken up, But creating a hostile environment for debate requires only a noisy minority and a lot of cowardice, He believes that. I know that many academics are reluctant to speak their mind in public. , This decision may make them feel a little more isolated.

Also read: Slavery: Is Scotland preparing to ‘cancel’ its historical legacy?

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About the Author: Forrest Morton

Organizer. Zombie aficionado. Wannabe reader. Passionate writer. Twitter lover. Music scholar. Web expert.

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