July 15, 2020

Really an iconic image, replacing a slave trader with a statue of a Black Lives Matter protester. One hopes the people of Bristol will let it remain in place.

Source: Washington Post

After protesters in Bristol, England, last month toppled a bronze statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader and philanthropist, a photographer captured an iconic image of Britain’s Black Lives Matter movement. In the photo, Jen Reid, a black Bristol resident, stands on Colston’s former perch, her fist raised defiantly into the air.

Now a more permanent likeness of the triumphant protester sits atop the plinth — at least for the moment. Early Wednesday morning, a guerrilla team of artists hoisted a black resin sculpture of Reid onto the spot that once held the slaver’s likeness.

“Being up there, with my fist raised — it was an amazing moment, and this captures it. It gives me goose pimples,” Reid told the Guardian.

The new sculpture — erected without any permission from the government — is likely to inflame anew fierce debates in the United Kingdom, which, like the United States, has been forced to reckon with its history of racism and colonialism by protests that have often targeted monuments and statues.

Colston’s statue was yanked down with a rope on June 7 by a cheering crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, who then dragged it through the streets and threw it into the harbor.

Jen Reid explained why the statue was so important to her.

“I raised my hands for George Floyd. I raised my hands for all the people who’ve died at the hands of the police for being black. To show people who think we don’t matter that we do matter,” Jen Reid told Channel 4 News.

“It’s making a stand for my mother, for black women like me, for my daughter and something to feel proud of, for them to have a sense of belonging.”


Jen Reid poses in front of the new statue portraying her, entitled “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020" by artist Marc Quinn, in Bristol, England. (Matt Dunham/AP)

UPDATE: And 24 hrs later the city council had the statue taken down.

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