Ryan Graham, Milo Bonsford, Sage Willoughby and Jack Scoos laughed at the verdict, which may have been implicitly reassuring. They were not found guilty of dismantling the statue of the slave ship Edward Colston on June 7, 2020. Pictures of their actions were all over the world.
Together with dozens of other activists, they tore down the statue of this former Bristol statue and then dragged it half a mile out of the water in the harbor of the largest city west of England. The young men explained their gesture with the disgust they felt when they saw a man admitted to have died in 1721, employed on the pedestal where he had amassed his wealth in the slave trade.
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During the trial, all four defendants did not deny the facts. But they all encouraged their action. “ I thought the statue celebrating a figure like Colston was a disgrace and disgrace to the people of Bristol. Milo Ponsford justified himself. Ryan Graham said he starred “Out of unity” With people of color. To Jack Scoos: “I know I’m right, I know everyone wants it. I know Bristol wants it, and everyone wants it.”
In the view of Liam Walker, Sage Willow’s lawyer, “Everyone accused was on the right side of the story, and I think they were on the right side of the law. Colston’s actions may have been historically significant, but his respect in Bristol is no longer there. [la présence de cette statue] An abuse was even set up “. So the jurors agreed with him, perhaps influenced by Master Walker, that he had repeated their decision. “Echoing around the world” Asked them “Should be on the right side of history”.
In the eyes of David Olushoka, a professor of public history who testified during the trial, the jury decided “The real crime is that the statue of a mass murderer may have been in that place for 125 years.” He feels their end “Our history is a turning point in the difficult and arduous path of this country to identify the good and the bad”.
Conservatives are stepping on the plate
However, the ruling caused almost as much controversy in the UK as the actions of four activists. Many Conservative MPs quickly got off the plate. “If you have committed a crime against the law, you should be punished” Said Tom Hunt, Tory MP of Ipswich. Before going further: “If there is no arbitral tribunal to ensure they are punished, it should be noted.”
Robert Genri, the former Minister of Communities, is not angry either. As a result, “If we accept racism and criminal damage as acceptable forms of political opposition, we are undermining the rule of law that supports our democracy. They are not. Whatever the motive.”
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For many, the ruling will prompt activists from all walks of life to overthrow the idols they consider unpopular. “Winston Churchill’s tomb and statue in Parliament Square have been damaged by anti-racist protesters in the past, and now there are fears that extremists may be emboldened.” Michael, another British Conservative MP, angered the manufacturer.
However, we are not there yet. Jacob Reese-Mock, the Tory speaker of the House of Commons, was generally not very helpful and tried to calm his colleagues. “One of the pride of this country is the arbitral tribunal, He declared. Jurors should be free to make decisions based on the facts before them regarding a particular case. “
This case is special. Kate Williams, a professor of history at the University of Reading, recalled the events. “Bristol has been discussing Edward Colston for years, but the talks have not gotten anywhere.” The city’s select conservatives and local merchants’ association in particular denies that its role in the slave trade in 2018 was not mentioned on the board attached to the statue.
Controversy within controversy. Some on social media have been protesting against the verdict. The logic is simple: if the defendants were color enthusiasts, they would be punished. In other words, for these types of crimes, whites risk nothing.
Whatever the color of future defendants, future trials on this type of issue do not necessarily end the same way on the other side of the channel. Monuments – A bill is currently under consideration in parliament that would impose a 10-year prison sentence on those who cause damage to public property, including statues. “Emotional Suffering” Created by their action.
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But the UK is still a long way off. On the contrary, this favorable verdict in favor of the four activists had a suffocating effect. Web managers Defeat the racists (“Drop the racists”) have compiled a list of 78 statues or monuments to be removed from the country. Among their targets are military veterans and politicians who have played a key role in the myths of the greatness of the United Kingdom, such as Captain Francis Drake, Admiral Nelson and Prime Ministers William Cladstone and Robert Peel. A plan that goes in the direction of the fear of elected conservatives.
Peter Williams, a professor at Cambridge, did not promise either. He is one of those who opposes this kind of demand due to the sometimes unstable behavior of activists, which is gradually infiltrating academia. “I don’t believe the majority are academics I woke up, But only quiet minorities and cowardice are needed to create a hostile environment for debate. He believes. I know many academics are reluctant to express their opinion in public. “ With this verdict, they may feel a little more isolated.
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