Prime Minister Boris Johnson regards the pulling down of the bronze statue of Edward Colston by protesters on Sunday as criminal, but Mayor Marvin Rees states he does not feel as if Bristol City was missing anything special.
The Guardian reports Johnson’s official image maker stated that the Prime Minister believes that although members of the public are strongly opinionated, there is a democratic process to observe before such a major step.
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The spokesperson explained that although PM Johnson held no ill feelings against the toppling of the statue, he noted yesterday’s event was criminal and whenever any criminal law was violated in the U.K, the law enforcement would always want convicted persons to face some form of legal actions.
He noted that the Prime Minister really appreciates the strong feelings. But in the U.K, citizens manage their differences in a democratic manner. So, if the public did not want the statue, there are legal provisions they should have been explored.
Thousands of people attended largely peaceful protests in Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and others at the weekend.
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But Sunday’s clash in London resulted in eight police officers getting injured, while 12 persons were arrested.
According to The Independent, the statue of the popular 17th Century slave merchant caused controversies in Bristol for years.
It would be noted thousand people converged in the city on Sunday for the demonstration which saw Colston’s statue removed and pulled around through the streets to the harbour, where it was eventually cast into the water.
Colston was associated with the Royal African Company, which is credited with the shipping of about 80,000 women, men and children to the Americas from the continent of Africa.
On his demise in 1721, he donated his wealth to charities, and his legacy is still visible on Bristol’s streets, buildings and memorials.
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The BBC confirms that after the statue was removed on Sunday, a protester was captured on camera kneeling on the statue’s neck, reminiscent of the viral footage showing George Floyd, a black man who was killed by Minneapolis police in the U.S.
Mayor Rees said the statue would be removed from the harbour with the possibility it would be brought back into a museum.
Also, Rees thinks circumstances became pressing and residents felt the need to topple the statue.
He said he would not pretend the statue of a slave merchant in a city where he was born was never an affront to him and many others.
In another development, The Telegraph reports that Mr. Rees noted that Bristol residents who were opposed to the statue assembled and it was his duty to unite, hear the voices and hold the truths together for people to whom the statue seemed like an embarrassment.
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Protesters in Bristol on Sunday described the toppling of Colston’s statue as empowering.
Some of those who witnessed the crash told the BBC why they consider it a great feat for the black community.
Police said it took a strategic decision not to intervene at the protest as protesters freely damaged the statue in their bid to force it down.
Supt Andy Bennett said although he felt bad, he understands that Colston’s statue had caused much embarrassment for the city’s ethnic minority.
In another development, the Police Federation faults the decision not to intervene, saying the approach did not send a positive message.
Supt Bennett said police had spotted 17 persons associated with the criminal destruction of the Colston statue and that investigations would still go on, nevertheless.
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Mr. Rees regarded the demonstration as an occasion where the council officers and police showcased themselves as well-behaved and organized.
He confirmed that although there was a large number of people, only very few arrests. Only one piece of criminal damage and that was at the statue, people did not go around smashing shop fronts or verbal assaults.
But leader of the Conservative group on Bristol City Council, Mark Weston, said convicted persons should be charged with wanton and criminal destruction.
He said he disagrees with anyone defacing or destroying public facilities, irrespective of what their motivation or actions might be.
An investigation has been launched at change.org for the statue of public rights activist, Dr. Paul Stephenson to be used to replace that of Colston.
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Dr Stephenson championed the Bristol bus boycott in the 1960s, which led to a prohibition on blacks who worked on city buses to be cancelled.
Also, several calls have also been made to take down the statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College at Oxford, with campaigners saying the university had refused to address its institutional racism.
Mr. Johnson has promised the law would catch up with every single individual engaged in violent conduct during the protests against racism in cities, noting the protests were hijacked by thugs.
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader, noted the manner in which the statue was removed was totally inappropriate, although he acknowledged the fact that the statue should have been pulled down a long time ago.
He said in 21st Century Britain, citizens cannot afford to have the statue of a slaver in the centre of the city. He thinks the statue should have been properly removed by the authority and preserved in a museum.
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