Bristol Mayor Branded ‘Not Really Black’, ‘Traitor to the Race’ for Removing Illegal BLM Statue

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

The Mayor of Bristol has revealed that he was branded “a traitor to the race” and “not really black” after an illegal Black Lives Matter statue was removed from the plinth formerly occupied by Edward Colston.

Mayor Marvin Rees, the son of a black Jamaican father and a white British mother, had said that “what is installed on [Colston’s plinth] must be decided by the people of Bristol” after London-based artist Marc Quinn illegally installed a statue of BLM activist Jen Reid performing a Black Power raised fist salute on it.

Colston, a merchant, philanthropist, and former MP for Bristol, born in the 1600s, who was once renowned for his charitable giving, had his statue torn down by a mob over his business links to the slave trade shortly after the Black Lives Matter movement spread from the United States to the United Kingdom, while police looked on.

Quinn’s statue, installed in secret at around 5 a.m. in the morning, was not left up as a fait accompli, as he and Reid may have hoped, but removed by workmen and loaded into a skip 25 hours later — prompting the abuse towards Mayor Rees.

“I have had a steady stream of stuff over the years but clearly there has been an uptick from the moment Colston came down,” Rees told reporters at his regular press conference, conducted via video link due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Then there was an uptick when the statue went up and a continued uptick when the statue came down,” he said.

“I have had stuff that has been derogatory about my own colour and racial background and people who look like me.

“I have also had stuff sent to me suggesting I was not really black and I was a traitor to the race in the way I dealt with it,” he revealed.

The Labour politician struck a stoic posture in response to the abuse, saying he has “been through enough in my life to have a sure sense of who I am.”

“I give talks to young people quite often about their own journey to identity and confidence in their identity, whatever challenges they have been overcoming, particularly those people who have lived, like I did as a young person, in a sense of limbo for a number of years, being mixed race, poor, born out of wedlock and all those statuses that say somehow you are nothing,” he explained.

Mayor Rees also noted the “increasing numbers of black artists and black sculptors now speaking out about their discomfort with the actions Marc Quinn took.”

Quinn, who is white, did not receive universal praise for his Black Power statue even from social justice activists, with a sign reading “Mark Quinn Love Money, Not Blacks” appearing at its feet during the short time it remained on Colston’s plinth.

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