Bristol Council’s heritage chief today said that Edward Colston’s removal by Black Lives Matter supporters was a great opportunity for the city to have ‘conversation, education and learning’ in the museum.

The bronze statue of the slave-trader from 17th Century was torn down in protest last June 7. It then went into Bristol Harbour.

Rhian Graham (30), Milo Ponsford (36) and Sage Willoughby (22) are being tried at Bristol Crown Court. They deny any criminal damage. 

Miss Graham said she had caused damage to the statue and that it wasn’t criminal. However, it’s up for discussion.

It was found in the harbor and now resides at the M Shed Museum.

Jon Finch from the council’s culture and creative industries department gave evidence to support the prosecution Tuesday regarding the damages done to the statue. He was confronted by remarks made about the statue before the June opening of the exhibit in which it is featured.

Ponsford: Tom Wainwright reads Mr Finch’s statements about the M Shed’s opportunity to show ‘the value and purpose of museums’.

Finch stated that museums need to be able “to respond and engage in social issues and contemporary concerns”. Finch also said it was a great opportunity for dialogue, education and most importantly engagement with Bristolians.

Milo Ponsford, left, Sage Willoughby, second left, Jake Skuse , second right in mask, and Rhian Graham right, accused of criminal damage over the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston, outside Bristol Crown Court today

Milo Ponsford left; Sage Willoughby second left; Jake Skuse second right in mask and RhianGraham right. They are accused of criminal damages over the toppling the statue of Edward Colston. This is outside Bristol Crown Court today

The charges relate to the toppling of a statue of Edward Colston last summer during a Black Lives Matter protest. The bronze statue was pulled down and dumped in the river (pictured)

These charges are related to last summer’s toppling of Edward Colston’s statue during Black Lives Matter. The statue of Edward Colston was torn down and dumped by the river. (Photo:

Wainwright stated that the toppling statue was an historical event. It was also a demonstration heard all over the globe.

“It was, yes,” replied Mr Finch.

“Now it has value as an educative and cultural object that was not there before?” Was Mr Wainwright asking?

Witness: “I believe it definitely now has value, as an historical object,” he said.

When asked by Mr Finch if Colston’s statue shouldn’t have been taken down earlier, he responded that he couldn’t comment.

CCTV footages helped to locate the four accused.

Graham was interviewed by police and confirmed she was the one in the video. Graham also said that the statue had been a’massive offensive’ to Bristolians, who had campaigned against its removal.

She said, “I acknowledge that I contributed to the destruction of the statue. But, whether it was criminal or not is up for debate.”

According to the court, Willoughby claimed that he tied ropes around his statue’s neck but that he didn’t pull it down or move it into the harbour.

Hughes claimed that Colston statue was being reclaimed by Bristol City Council after it had been ignored for over twenty years.

“He caused the damage, and he did not have permission from Bristol City Council to do it.”

Police interviewed Skuse and Ponsford but they did not respond to any questions.

According to the jury, there has been an effort to get rid of the statue at least since the 1990s. However, concerns were raised even earlier in the 20th century.

According to the Society of Merchant Venturers, a 2018 planning application to add a plaque to the plinth to explain Colston’s participation in slavery trade was rebuffed.

Yesterday, the court heard that one of the woman accused of toppling the statue of Edward Colston the slave trader was claiming it was to prove she wasn’t racist.

Rhian Graham (aged 30) made these remarks when she was being interviewed by police regarding the damage done to the 19th century bronze memorial in Bristol during the protests there on June 7.

Graham and Milo Ponsford (26 years old), Sage Willoughby (22) helped to remove the statue from the plinth. This was according to Bristol Crown Court.

Four people accused of damaging Bristol's Edward Colston statue during a Black Lives Matter protest received a warm welcome from a crowd of supporters as they arrived at court today

As they arrived at the court, four people were accused of damaging Bristol’s Edward Colston statue.

Supporters gathered outside the court with placards and signs as the defendants arrived

As defendants arrived, supporters assembled outside of the court and held placards.

A supporter stands with a placard at Bristol Crown Court ahead of trial of the Colston Four

Supporter holds a placard and stands in front of the Bristol Crown Court before trial of Colston Four

The statue’s fall was followed by paint spraying and rolling the sculpture 520m through the streets. Finally, it was dumped in the harbor.

Jake Skuse (33), was also accused of rolling the statue over rails near the water’s edge.

After almost 10,000 peaceful protestors passed Colston by the time it was taken down, a small number of people attacked Colston’s statue.

The statue was tied around its neck by Willoughby, who also used one rope to bring it down. Jurors heard.

Video footage from CCTV showed Graham and Ponsford pulling the ropes, as the statue was lowered to the street below.

After cheers, applause, and whistling, Judge Peter Blair, QC, Recorder of Bristol, issued a stern warning to the public gallery as footage from the descent of the bird was shown in court.

Later on, the people who watched the trial made silent “jazz hand” waves to celebrate the statue being thrown into the harbour.

The statue was removed from the water by the council four days later. The graffiti-covered statue can be seen at the nearby museum.

William Hughes QC (prosecutor) told the jury that Colston was a slave Trader.

Hughes stated that this incident happened during Black Lives Matter demonstrations against the death of George Floyd (a black man) who was held down by an officer from the US.

According to him, around 10,000 people attended the march. He also said police stated that it was engaging. They were happy for the unity of the community in their efforts to transform black lives.

After the protestors passed the law, only a few people gathered at Edward Colston statue in Bristol’s city centre.

The statue was taken down using ropes that were brought to the site by members of the small group which included Miss Graham, Mr Ponsford and Mr Willoughby.

“After being thrown, the paint was sprayed on it and it was struck with tools.

“The statue was then rolled through the centre of the city and placed in the harbour.

“The statue was then rolled for a significant distance, approximately 520m to reach the harbour edge. It was then pushed into harbour.

“Mr Skuse” was responsible for this activity, which involved the rolling of the statue from the original fall location where it had been dropped into the water.

All of these activities caused significant damage to the statue, not just to the base of the statue. It also fell on the pavement below it and to the railings at the harbor.

“This was an illegal criminal act and not part of Black Lives Matter’s peaceful march.”

Hughes stated that all sides agreed Colston was divisive among city residents, and that the existence of the statue has been the topic of heated debate.

Bristol City Council was not aware of the situation and had yet to decide whether or not it would be taken down.

The cost of the damage to the statue was estimated at £3,750 while the damage to railings at the harbour edge was £350.

Following the incident Ponsford was taken into custody at his Bristol motorhome. Graham and Willoughby were able to attend interviews with police.

Graham of Colston Road in Bristol told police that the statue’s very existence was offensive, according to the court.

Police interviewed her and she said that the Edward Colston statue is an offense to so many Bristol residents.

It is a monument to a slave trader that has been placed in the city.

“I admit that I contributed to damage to the Statue, but it’s up for debate whether it is illegal. [of]All the contextual information surrounding the statue.

“It’s just an offense to many of Bristol’s population.

Colston’s statue depicts him as a middle-aged man, wearing period clothes, and leaning against a stick. It was built in 1895.

This sculpture was ordered by John Cassidy, a sculptor who died in 1721.

Colston donated generously to Bristol. Numerous buildings, schools, hospitals, pubs, streets, and roads have been named in his honor.

Bristol was the scene of another incident that led to the removal of statues elsewhere in Britain and protests against monuments to Britain’s colonial past.

Graham, Ponsford, Willoughby, and Skuse all denial criminal damage.

Trial, which is expected to continue for two more weeks, will be continued.