Banksy Designed a Line of T-Shirts to Raise Money for Protesters Accused of Toppling a Statue of Slave Trader Edward Colston
The “Colston Four” are charged with criminal damage to public property.
Banksy released a limited-edition run of t-shirts this weekend to raise funds for four protesters facing trial this week over damage to a controversial statue in Bristol last year.
The protesters have been charged with criminal damage for their role in bringing down a statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century merchant who profited from the trade in enslaved people, and dunking it in a harbor.
“Next week the four people charged with pulling down Colston’s statue in Bristol are going on trial,” the artist, who is from Bristol, wrote on Instagram on Saturday. “I’ve made some souvenir shirts to mark the occasion.”
The gray t-shirts say “Bristol” above a depiction of the empty plinth where the statue formerly stood. Below it are debris, the rope used to pull it down, and discarded sign from the Black Lives Matter demonstration when it was toppled.
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The shirts, which are already sold out, were priced at £25 ($34) and available at various places around the city. The artist said that all proceeds from the sales would go to the defendants “so they can go for a pint.”
The toppling of the Colston monument was a key inflection point in the debate raging in the U.K. over what figures should be celebrated in public spaces. Many demonstrators have demanded that the government remove monuments of figures who were involved in the country’s colonial exploits, and replace them with statues celebrating a more diverse array of people.
While the Colston statue was brought down by a large group during the protest, just four people have been charged in connection to the event.
Aged between 21 and 36, the “Colston Four,” as they are known, are Rhian Graham, Jake Skuse, Sage Willoughby, and Milo Ponsford. All face trial for criminal damage to public property. They have all pleaded not guilty and will stand trial this month at Bristol crown court.
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