Four BLM protesters accused of causing criminal damage for pulling down a statue of a slave trader have been cleared.
Four BLM protesters accused of causing criminal damage for pulling down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol have been found not guilty today, January 5.
The so-called ‘Colston Four’ were cleared after prosecutors charged them for pulling down the slave trader’s monument during a Black Lives Matter protest in June 2022.
Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, Sage Willoughby, 22, and Jake Skuse, 33, were all relieved with the verdict and cheers were heard in the public gallery.
Outside of Bristol Crown Court, supporters hugged the four.
The footage of the four toppling the statue, dragging it around 500 metres and dumping it in the harbour became an iconic scene in the wave of anti-racism demonstrations that took place across the UK and around the world following the murder of George Floyd.
It was even brought up during Mr Floyd’s funeral.
Hundreds of protesters were present at the scene, however, only the four defendants were charged with criminal damage and accused of orchestrating the statue’s toppling.
The prosecution told jurors it wasn’t relevant who Colston was and that it was simply a case of criminal damage.
However, Tom Wainwright, for Ponsford, argued the toppling helped heal the wounds of slavery while Liam Walker, for Willoughby, said the jurors’ decision would “reverberate around the world,” urging them to “be on the right side of history.”