United Kingdom BLM protestors acquitted for pulling down statue of slave trader

Three men and a woman were cleared on Wednesday of causing criminal damage for helping to pull down a statue of a 17th century slave trade magnate and throw it into Bristol harbor in southwest England during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

The bronze statue of Edward Colston, which had long been a source of division in the port city, was hauled down during an anti-racism demonstration

Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, Sage Willoughby, 22, and Jake Skuse, 33, were prosecuted for pulling the statue of the 17th century slave trader down during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7, 2020, while a huge crowd was present.

“We are ecstatic and stunned,” said Rhian Graham, one of the four protesters cleared by a jury of criminal damage following a trial at Bristol Crown Court. “We all have the ability to say how our space is decorated and who we venerate and who we celebrate and one thing that we know now is that Colston does not represent Bristol.”

Local campaign group Hackney Stand Up To Racism (HSUTR) released a statement on January 6. It read: “When they toppled the statue on June 7, 2020, Black Lives Matter activists in Bristol sent an inspirational message across the world that the glorification of slavers wasn’t acceptable anymore.” HSUTR said the statue glorified Colston and “hid the reality” that he was a slave trader. 

A further six protestors were given “restorative justice” outcomes, which saw them pay a £100 fine, undertake unpaid work and fill in a questionnaire about their actions.

Lawyers and political commentators have since slammed the jury’s verdict, with some admitting they fear that the 17th century slaver was put on trial at Bristol Crown Court, rather than the four vandals. 

Political commentator and campaigner Calvin Robinson said he sceptical of the defence’s decision to bring ‘biased’ Olusoga as an expert witness. He told MailOnline: “David Olusoga was obviously biased, but more importantly he’s not an expert in destruction of property, he is a historian.”

“This court case should have had nothing to do with history. It was about the destruction of public property. Clearly it was Colston on trial, and not the Black Lives Matter thugs. The whole trial was on Colston, it wasn’t entirely relevant and now the result looks political.”

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