Four people have been charged with the toppling of a statue of a slave trader in the English port city of Bristol in an incident which sparked a major debate about Britain’s imperial past earlier this year.
The statue of Edward Colston, who made a fortune in the 17th century from trading in West African slaves, was torn down and thrown into Bristol harbour in June by a group of demonstrators taking part in a worldwide wave of protests in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in the United States.
Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Jake Skuse, and Sage Willoughby will appear at a Bristol court on 25 January charged with criminal damage, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
The tearing down of Colston’s statue led to other memorials being taken down or their future being debated, while many academics and public figures voiced opposition to the removal of such monuments, arguing they merely reflected history and should be used as points of discussion.
After the incident, Prime Minister Boris Johnson
’s spokesman said he understood people’s strong feelings on the issue but removing the statue was a criminal act.