A bronze statue of a 17th century slave trader was pulled down to the ground by protesters in Bristol on Sunday, during the second day of anti-racist protests in the UK, as reported by Bristol Live.
Demonstrators attached ropes to pull the statue from its plinth on Sunday as crowds cheered. They then jumped on it and dragged it through the streets before pushing it into the harbour.
The statue of Edward Colston, erected in 1895 has long been a divisive image in the city, and was subject to a petition signed by 11,000 people seeking its removal, due to Colston’s active role in the slave trade.
Colston was a Bristol-born merchant and a member of the Royal African company, which was known to have shipped at least 100,000 slaves from Africa to the Americas between 1672 and 1689, according to The Guardian.
Home Secretary Priti Patel described the act of tearing down the statue as “utterly disgraceful” and called for police action. Speaking to Sky News she said, "It's right the police follow up and make sure that justice is undertaken with those individuals that are responsible for such disorderly and lawless behaviour.”
Police superintendent Andy Bennett, of Bristol, Avon and Somerset Police, said they are launching an investigation.
He said, "An investigation will be carried out to identify those involved and we're already collating footage of the incident. I'd like to thank our partners at Bristol City Council for helping us to ensure this was a safe event for all who attended."
Global protests against racism and police brutality have also taken place across the UK over the last two days, particularly in London, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Wolverhampton and Nottingham.
The demonstrations have sparked concerns due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he supports the cause but urged people not to gather in groups of more than six.
"Please don't gather in groups of more than six people because there is also a pandemic that we must address and control," Hancock said. "And so we've got to make the argument, we've got to make further progress, on top of the significant progress that has been made in recent years, but we've got to do it in a way that's safe and controls the virus."
Patel reiterated Hancock’s message, urging Britons to avoid creating large gatherings.
Please for the safety of all of us, do not attend large gatherings - including protests - of more than six people this weekend.— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) June 5, 2020
As @MattHancock said, coronavirus remains a real threat and people must protect themselves and their families from this horrific disease. https://t.co/AijZRYuQ30