Over on the Facebook page of Mayor Marvin Rees, there’s a post about an upcoming BBC2 documentary stating;
#Bristol hit the headlines around the world last year
With the #Colston statue now in M Shed, this week a behind-the-scenes documentary from David Olusoga shows how we worked to hold our city together
This statement sort of makes it sound like the eruption of BLM protests in the city, indeed the world, were some kind of ‘natural disaster’ rather than a grass-roots movement responding to ongoing state injustice? What is also missing from that tag-line is, what one commenter on the post asked, “Didnt the council help prosecute the people who actually pulled the statue down?” Yes, the council that Marvin leads did indeed provide an impact statement on the damage done to the state, and that statement is being used as part of the prosecution’s documents. Also, worth noting that Mayor Rees seemed to take no action on the statue once elected to power, a long-running issue in the city as Bristol Radical History has documented. Here’s some damming evidence of inaction by Rees on this issue:
In email communications about the Colston plaque, the mayor’s assistant seemed to suggest that the mayor would want nothing to do with the process, and he refused to even sign his name to the council statement. pic.twitter.com/O44wJSmPTc
— Joanna Booth (@stillawake) June 2, 2021
Plus more here on how he sidestepped the issue. Had he taken the issue on, yes he would have faced opposition of every kind from the Nazi threatening types to the Telegraph reading concern trolls. And yes, there are racist idiots who attack the mayor because he’s black anyway, and they are scum. Yes there are White Supremacists who want Colston back on the pedestal because of what that would represent if it were to happen. Yes putting it into a museum and not back on display is a better move, now it’s been toppled.
But the authorities who put this statue into the MShed after the people had been heard, are not the heroes of this story.
Yes, Mayor Marvin Rees is a part of the story, as the most powerful elected politician in a city that saw a significant political protest in support of the cause if BLM. But he’s not the hero of this story. The protestors are. The people who took a stand against institutional racism on the streets of the city, against the symbols of White Supremacy – and at great personal risk in many cases – are the real heroes here.
Those with elected power who didn’t use that people-power to remove a hated symbol of White Supremacy when they could, don’t get to be the hero of this story. Those who are providing, or standing by while their colleagues do, the documents used to prosecute four ordinary people caught up in the police drag-net don’t get to be the heroes of this story. Those who try to ‘both-sides’ the issue when the national State fumes in faux outrage at those who had the temerity to question a statue of a man who is drenched in the blood of slaves also don’t get to be the heroes here.
The heroes of this story are, as is so often the case, are those that speak truth to power, not those who hold it.