As the issue of statues of historical figures placed as veneration, such as Colston’s was in Bristol, and without say, some realism of them also being “a mass murderer“, is returned into the public debate, the Government attempts to weaponize the issue. From one that should be about a deeper historical understanding and updating, into a straightforward ‘culture war issue‘ in a thinly disguised attempt to distract from the chaos of Brexit and the death-toll of COVID. By briefing that the Black Lives Matters protesters were a “Baying Mob” they provocatively re-ignite the racism debate. Whilst ignoring that any damage to a statue or monument is already dealt with by both the Criminal Damage Act 1971, and S.7 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 – as four of the Colston Topplers have found out! That same Act also requires Planning permission to move or adapt etc any such statue as it has ‘Listed’ status, but the Government’s new Bill introduces the need for Ministerial approval – a political intervention designed to override local democracy. So ironically, the Government plans are an attempt to add more undemocratic hurdles to any ‘within the system‘ attempt move things on (the failure of which led of course to protesters toppling Colston!);
In which, with 100,000 dead, a cabinet minister breaks cover to yell about **statues** and accuses Labour councils of “ripping down heritage”. Whose cuts shut Victorian libraries, left centuries-old parks in decay and closed museums? pic.twitter.com/K83d2MJmUe
— John Harris (@johnharris1969) January 17, 2021
The wider context of this, in addition to the omnishambles of Tory ‘governance’, casts a shadow over the upcoming trial of the Colston 4. Bristol Radical History group, who along with the Countering Colston campaign and others have been pushing to add some context to these issues for years, have announced an online event with the Cube Cinema around this upcoming trial;
On the day of the first scheduled court appearance of the Colston 4, there will be a online film screening and conversations to provide a context for that event. January 25th, 2021 will see four defendants appearing at Bristol Magistrates Court on charges arising from the toppling of the Colston statue at a huge Black Lives Matter demonstration on June 7th 2020. That toppling reflected the frustration of many about the continued memorialisation and honouring of the slave-trader Colston, despite years of campaigning to reveal the truth about Colston and his activities.
7pm – Online Film Screenings
9pm – Online Conversations