Four charged with criminal damage after statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled during BLM protests

FOUR people have been charged with criminal damage after a statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston was toppled in the BLM protests.

Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 32, and Sage Willoughby, 21, were charged today.

They will appear before Bristol Magistrates' Court on January 25 next year.

The controversial Edward Colston monument was ripped from its plinth using rope as crowds cheered during the protest in June.

Protesters could be seen jumping up and down on the toppled statue as it came crashing to the ground.

It was then spray-painted red and rolled into the river.

Avon and Somerset Police launched an investigation after £3,750 worth of damage was caused.

Who was Edward Colston?

COLSTON was a merchant in the Royal African Company – the most prominent firm in the England in the West African slave trade.

During his time at the company, it is believed to have transported around 84,000 African men women and children as slaves.

Colston was a philanthropist in his native Bristol and a number of charitable foundations still bear his name in the city.

The bronze memorial to Colston had been in the city's centre since 1895.

Slave ships owned by Colston in the 17th Century transported tens of thousands of people from Africa to the Americas.

Activists had gathered in Bristol as part of a largely peaceful worldwide Black Lives Matter protest against the death of George Floyd in the US.

The bronze figure of slave trader Colston had been in the city centre since 1895.

But the authorities had come under mounting pressure to remove it – with a petition to get rid of it garnering more than 11,000 signatures.

The CPS said it had authorised charges following a review of a file of evidence from police.

A spokesman said: "The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against all four are now active and that they have the right to a fair trial.

"It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."

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