Colston’s final resting place: Surrounded by old chocolate wrappers and steam engine parts, the battered statue demolished by BLM protesters now languishes in the scruffy store room of Bristol’s history museum
- The battered statue of Edward Colston sits behind protective glass in a museum
- It bears the red and blue graffiti from the Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020
- Visitors can still see it, but only by booking a daily behind-the-scenes tour
- A tour guide said “I was given a long list of things I can and can’t say, I’m not going to say anything at all”
Still protected by protective glass, the battered statue of slave trader Edward Colston sits in a museum stash alongside steam engine components, old chocolate wrappers and various other antiques.
The bronze sculpture bears the red and blue graffiti from the Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020 when it was ripped from its plinth in Bristol city centre, rolled through the streets and dumped in the harbour.
Museum visitors can view the statue, but only by reserving a place for a behind-the-scenes tour once a day. Those hoping for comments on the controversial effigy will be disappointed.
Still shrouded in protective glass, the battered statue of slave trader Edward Colston sits in a museum store room alongside steam engine components, old chocolate wrappers and various other antiques
The bronze sculpture bears the red and blue graffiti of the Black Lives Matter protest in June 2020 when it was ripped from its plinth in Bristol city centre, rolled through the streets and dumped in the harbor
The volunteer guide who visited last week admitted: ‘I was given a long list of things I can and cannot say so I won’t say anything at all.
Staff at the M Shed museum, which celebrates Bristol’s history, removed the statue from general view last week – a move the museum said was in line with a visitor survey.
It was placed in the store in the adjoining L shed just days before four activists seen on CCTV looping ropes around the monument and pulling it down were cleared by a jury of criminal damages.
Amid allegations that the verdict created a “charter of vandals”, Attorney General Suella Braverman is considering sending the acquittal to the Court of Appeals.
The “Colston Four” – Sage Willoughby, Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford and Jake Skuse – have reportedly received legal aid to fund at least part of their defense.
A GoFundMe page for the ‘Bristol Topplers’ Defense Fund’ solicited donations for ‘legal costs not covered by legal aid’ and raised £13,500.
Museum visitors can see the statue, but only by reserving a place for a behind-the-scenes tour once a day
Colston, a 17th century merchant, made his fortune trading in slaves, but continued to give so much money to philanthropy in Bristol that his name appeared throughout the city in streets, schools and a concert hall.
The government wants to increase the maximum sentence for damage to memorials or statues from three months to ten years, but experts fear this could lead to more acquittals.
Human rights lawyer Adam Wagner said: ‘The changes are an open invitation to ten times more Colston-type trials.
“All cases of damage to public monuments would be before a jury at the Crown Court because the sentence would be increased to ten years, so we will see a lot more.”