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Slave trader statue thrown into river in England

Posted June. 09, 2020 08:06,   

Updated June. 09, 2020 08:06


Around 10,000 people turned out for a demonstration against the death of George Floyd, who died of police brutality, in the port city of Bristol in England on Sunday. Some of the protesters threw eggs at a 5.5-meter bronze statue standing in Colston Avenue and then fastened ropes around the neck to pull it down. “It’s down,” shouted the crowds. Scenes like this are becoming a symbol of anti-racism demonstrations in Europe.

According to BBC, statues of historical figures, who were labeled as racists, were defaced during large-scale demonstrations held across Europe on the same day.

It was the statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston (1636-1721) that was toppled in Bristol. Colston joined the Royal African Company (RAC), which had a monopoly on the west African trade, in 1680 and sold about 100,000 African slaves to the Caribbean and the American continent. Bristol became the center of slave trade in England in the 17th century.

After the Glorious Revolution weakened the power of the king in 1689, Colston turned himself into a philanthropist, making donations to schools and hospitals in Bristol and London. He served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bristol. Colston donated his wealth to local charitable institutions on his death in 1721. In the process, school, theater, buildings, and even streets in Bristol were named after Colston and his statue was erected in 1895. But there has been criticism surrounding Colston’s involvement in the slave trade after slavery was abolished in Europe in 1815. Hospitals and schools in Bristol started to drop the name of Colston.

After the death of George Floyd, a petition asking for the removal of the statue garnered thousands of signatures in the past week, the Guardian reported. After the statue was toppled, one demonstrator pressed his knee on the statue’s neck like the white police officer did to Floyd. The statue was later dragged to a harbor and thrown into the River Avon.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com