Black Lives Matter protesters in Bristol have pulled down the statue of a 17th century slave trader who has numerous landmarks named after him in the city. Footage on social media shows demonstrators tearing down a statue of Edward Colston from its plinth during protests in the city centre on Sunday.

The demonstrations came in response to the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis on 25 May. The controversial bronze memorial had stood in the centre of Bristol since 1895. In recent days, more than 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on Bristol City Council to have it removed.

Before it was pulled down, protestor John McAllister, 71, removed the black bin bags hiding the statues.

Mr. McAllister said: “It says ‘erected by the citizens of Bristol, as a memorial to one of the most virtuous and wise sons of this city’.”

“The man was a slave trader. He was generous to Bristol but it was off the back of slavery and it’s absolutely despicable. It’s an insult to the people of Bristol,” he added.

In the late 17th century, slave ships owned by Colston are thought to have transported tens of thousands of people from Africa to the Americas. Colston became the deputy governor of the Royal African Company, which then had a monopoly over slave trading, and later served as a Tory MP for Bristol.

The slave trader still has a large presence in the city of his birth, where many schools, buildings and charities are named after him.

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