So itâs back to the Bristol Crown Court for the second-half of the Trial of the Colston4 defendants, a trial rudely interrupted by xmas intervening on behalf of the Prosecution, who we had losing 7-0 at half-time.
That of course is our biased perception, as we #SupportTheColston4 not the British state, nor the cheerleaders for the Colston cult of slave-traders & mass murderers. It is not of course quite that simple!
Whilst the CPSâs QC William Hughes may have followed a totally uninspiring & insipid line of questionning of defence witnesses & the defendants themselves, he does actually have the easy job â so if he fails heâll look like the total toff prick that he is. Given that the defendants openly admit their involvement in toppling the racist statue of Colston, itâs the defence lawyers who have their work cut out convincing the Jury to not find them guilty of a single charge each of âcriminal damageâ â their job is to convince the jury that toppling the statue was the right thing to do, after a 100+ years of protests were totally ignored by Bristolâs politicians and ruling elites/businessmen who wished to preserve the myths about Colston not being a mass-murdering slave-trader & religious bigot.
Now whilst we might think the proceedings and arguments between the defence and prosecution have been far too polite (yes, we want some anger in the courtroom!), we have to remember that the legal profession is a bit of a closed club, with itâs own hierarchies & rules. Break them, and the judge will ensure you lose. The defence lawyers would never get away with the sort of comments expressed by defendant Jake Skuse on Day 7 (22 December), as so eagerly reported by The Bristolian:
Among the gems Jake told the court under cross examination from Scrotescak QCâs team were that his thoughts when the statue came down were âget this racist fucker away from here so he canât be put back upâ and that throwing Colston in the docks was âa final fuck off to the slaverâ.
He also openly admitted he deliberately helped remove the statue so that our idiot council couldnât put it back up again.
Defence lawyers couldnât get away with language like that, which is why working class & honest Bristolians like Jake could never be lawyers (but will help toss slave-traders statues into the harbour). But we loved it!
But on the plus side, after the Prosecution had said at the start of the trial that âColston was a divisive figure and a slaverâ âthis trial is not about himââŠbut about a simple charge of criminal damage to a statue, the defence did in fact spend the best part of 4 days introducing all sorts of facts & history about Colston being that mass murdering slave trader. They were helped in this by the testimonies of tv celebrity (and historian) David Olusoga; former Colston Girls school student & later âLord Mayorâ Cleo Lake; and descendants of slaves Gloria Daniel & local man Lloyd Russell; as well as some excellent statements by the defendants themselves, which grabbed headlines internationally. Sadly missing was the statement from an international valuer regards the monetary value now of the Colston statue post toppling, which was ruled as inadmissable by the Judge..!? Which seems odd, as usually criminal damage diminishes the value of something, but perhaps in this case the phrase âColston statue is now a Banksyâ suggests how much better off Bristol Council are now the statue has become a piece of protest art?
Court on Tuesday 4th January will see: closing speeches from the CPS QC; the same from the Defence lawyers; the Judgeâs summary and directions to the Jury; and eventually the Jury will retire to consider itâs verdicts. This may well run onto Wednesday morning, given the delays so far, and the court admin. When the Jury does retire to consider, there is no way of knowing for how long, could be a day or days.
Family, friends and supporters of the Colston4 will be in court every day. There are suggestions for a solidarity protest on the day of the verdicts, a celebration perhaps? But any such thing will be at short notice.
Catch up on the Trial so far with these reports, with lots of juicy details:
The Bristolian court reports
Alternative Bristol articles on the trial & Colston
Damien Gayle (Guardian) court reports
The Canaryâs articles on Bristol
The Bristol Post provides some decent straight up court summaries each day
For background info to the case & the slave trader Colston, and for daily court reports, check out:
Bristol Radical History Groupâs Colston Project articles & articles on Slavery & Resistance
Countering Colston campaign
For info and callouts follow GladColstonsGone on FB; and on twitter follow @countercolston / @alt_bristol_ / @brisradhis / @bristol_citizen / @bristoldefenda1