An extraordinary verdict has been passed in Great Britain: four Black Lives Matter protesters: inside were acquitted in the process of the overthrow of a statue.
Bristol – Four protesters who toppled a statue during the Black Lives Matter protests were acquitted in court. The trial before the Bristol Crown Court in England ended after 24 days on Wednesday (05.01.2022), when a jury made up of twelve jurors acquitted the so-called “Colston 4” from the allegation of property damage, as reported by the Bristol Live portal.
After the assassination of George Floyd in the USA, protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement had broken out in Bristol as well. The four activists, three men and one woman between the ages of 22 and 37, overthrew the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol in June 2020. Videos show the image of Colston being brought down with a rope and later pushed into Bristol Harbor. The four defendants were acquitted, despite admitting that they were involved in the crime.
Trial of Black Live’s Matter protests comes to an end: judgment in Bristol causes controversy
“The truth is, the defendants should never have been charged,” said one of the defense lawyers. The four had already denied the criminal nature of their act in court and pleaded not guilty. The protesters see the statue of Colston as a disgrace for Bristol, as the latter is said to have sold around 100,000 West African slaves to the Caribbean and the USA between 1672 and 1689. On the other hand, the Conservative MP is seen as a philanthropist, as he drove his fortune for the development of Bristol.
In addition to the verdict on the “Colston 4”, a new phase of coming to terms with the colonial past of Great Britain has begun since the protests. In Bristol, for example, two schools and an event hall were renamed to bear Colston’s name. Nonetheless, the ruling has sparked controversy in the UK, with critics seeing it as a license for vandals. These voices include Conservative MPs calling for protesters to be prosecuted, the Daily Mail reported.
Black Lives Matter: Statue and pedestal become art in Bristol
The statue itself has since been seen again in Bristol when it was shown at an exhibition focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement. Meanwhile, a statue of Black Lives Matter activist Jen Reid was briefly placed on the former location of the Colston image. However, this was removed from the city of Bristol shortly afterwards, as there was no permit for it.
When the verdict was announced, the four defendants appeared wearing T-shirts designed by Bristol-born artist Banksy. It shows the empty base of the Colston statue and the word Bristol in capital letters. The acquitted Rhian Graham, as she left the courtroom, thanked everyone who had demonstrated “in the name of equality” at the demonstration. (vbu / afp)