Toppled monument to slave trader Edward Colston replaced with statue of BLM activist
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked widespread protests about racial injustice, which spread from the US across the world.
As the Black Lives Matter movement swelled, activists turned their attention to an everyday reminder of racial injustice of the past – statues and monuments to colonialists and slave traders.
In Bristol, a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th Century Tory MP and slave trader, was torn down by a crowd and thrown into the river on 7 June, where the plinth has since stood empty – until now.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, a new monument was installed in Colston’s place – a statue of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid.
Artist Marc Quinn created the likeness of Reid, a protester photographed standing on the plinth after demonstrators pulled down Colston’s statue.
Quinn said Reid had “created the sculpture when she stood on the plinth and raised her arm in the air. Now we’re crystallising it.”
The new statue doesn’t currently have council permission to be there, but Reid said: “I’d like the council to keep it here because obviously what it represents and who was there prior. It’s a decision that they’re going to have to make. I think the most important thing is that something is up there replacing Edward Colston. And for people to discuss, educate, learn and just keep talking about, you know, BLM (Black Lives Matter).”
“It looks like it belongs there,” she added.
“Looks like it’s been there forever. It’s something that fills me with pride. Yeah, I absolutely love it.”
City authorities fished the Colston statue out of the harbour and say it will be placed in a museum, along with placards from the Black Lives Matter demonstration.