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Banksy proposes new Bristol memorial of protesters toppling slave trader statue

Street artist says the idea would cater both to critics and defenders of the monument of Edward Colston

Bristol’s prodigal son, Banksy, has waded into the debate about what to do with the empty plinth where the statue of the 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston stood in the city centre until Sunday, when it was pulled down by protestors and rolled into the River Avon amid cheers from onlookers.

Posting a rudimentary sketch on Instagram, Banksy suggests the bronze memorial should be dredged from the harbour and put back on its plinth—with some crucial additions. He says: “We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.”

While many fans are applauding his idea on social media, some say the bronze memorial should just be melted down, or even shredded in the same way that Banksy dispatched with his Girl with Balloon painting at Sotheby’s in 2018. Others, however, say the artist is “both sides-ing” the removal of the statue; on Instagram, Banksy describes his idea as “cater[ing] for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t”.

In a previous post, Banksy voiced his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, saying “people of colour are being failed by the system”. Sharing a painting of a vigil candle catching fire to the corner of the American flag, he said: “People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs. This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.”