Bristol Should Be Proud over Destruction of Colston Statue, Says Police Chief

Police officers keep watch during a demonstration called by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

The police officer in charge of the operation in Bristol, which saw Black Lives Matter activists topple a historical statue of British parliamentarian Edward Colston over his ties to slavery, said the city “should be proud” over the act of vandalism.

Superintendent Andy Bennett, the lead officer for the operation on Sunday, said that at the moment there have been no charges brought against the vandals, saying that the police service may ask some of the culprits to “voluntarily attend a police station” but added that “we haven’t got that far”.

Bennet claimed that should police have intervened and stopped the vandals from throwing the Colston statue in the harbour, there likely would have been an outbreak of violence, and therefore the police stood down and allowed the mob to act as they pleased. He noted that there were less than 80 officers present at the protests, which saw some 10,000 people attend in clear defiance of the Chinese coronavirus lockdown measures that remain in place.

“People will say we allowed them to roll it all the way to the docks… if you’ve got a police cordon protecting a statue of a man who made his money trading slaves, you can imagine how different things might have been,” the Detective Superintendent said, according to The Times.

“I know it was the right thing to do for the safety of everyone. No one got hurt and we had no arrests in the whole protest. That is 10,000 passionate people. Bristol should be proud of itself,” he added.

Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly told the chief constable of Bristol, Andy Marsh, that she expects prosecutions over the incident. So far 17 people have been identified, yet no charges have been brought against them for the criminal damage.

Edward Colston, the British philanthropist and parliamentarian depicted in the statue, partially earned his fortune through the slave trade during his time as a board member of the Royal African Company in the late 1600s, though much of his wealth came from other endeavours such as the trade of fruits, wine, and fabrics. His ties to the slave trade, though commonly acceptable during his lifetime, has made him into a despised figure by the modern British left.

The Mayor of Bristol, Martin Rees has also expressed support for the destruction of the Colston statue, saying that the act was a “piece of historical poetry”.

“Torn down, dragged through the streets… When you think about some of the punishments that would have been meted out on his slaves, Africans… Thrown off the quayside where Colston’s ships would undoubtedly have docked, next to a bridge called Pero’s Bridge named after a Bristol slave,” he said.

“You think about all the Africans that were thrown overboard and finished their lives underwater. I mean the historical poetry of that should not be lost on anyone,” Rees added.

The mayor also defended the lack of action taken by the Bristol police, calling their performance “absolutely outstanding” and an act of “ego-free, wise policing” that prevented violence.

The left-wing Labour Party mayor also said that he could not “look into Boris Johnson’s heart” to see if the prime minister cares about black lives or not, but added: “The way the migration debate through Brexit and beyond was handled made me feel uncomfortable as a black man. I was born in this country, I have a British passport and my own government made me feel uncomfortable about my Britishness.”

There has been little appetite from the British establishment in general to defend monuments and statues of historical figures targetted by left-wing activists in the national Black Lives Matter purge.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.