The four individuals accused of criminal damage regarding the toppling of the Colston statue in Bristol are cleared. Brilliant news tonight as the Colston 4 Black Lives Matter protesters Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Jake Skuse and Sage Willoughby were cleared of criminal damage following accusations of toppling the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol in 2020. They took a brave stance in court, they never denied being involved in bringing the statue down, their defence centred on their denial that doing so was criminal. The fact is, people have tried for decades to get this statue removed, stymied each time by a small group of people who lionised Colston for benefitting Bristol historically, but when those benefits are built on the slave trade, when this individual transported an estimated 80,000 slaves to the America’s of which some 10,000 were children, is this really the sort of person a statue should be kept of? In this day and age, where more and more people are demanding their voices be heard and their views respected, when racism is of course seen as a bad thing and historical ills have been whitewashed – and I use the term deliberately – for long enough, such celebratory monuments are no longer acceptable. The removal of this statue therefore is a positive move towards paying tribute to historical wrongs and wanting to move forward in a better, more constructive way. It was not therefore irrelevant as to who Colston was amid the accusations of criminal damage these four young people faced. Dumping it in the harbour was entirely appropriate given how many slaves historically got thrown overboard by slavers. It’s defaced form was fished out, so stick it in a museum as a reminder of how far we’ve come when we do not deem such figures acceptable any longer and open up a conversation about other monuments around the country who cause upset and offence by their continued presence. Congratulations to the four exonerated individuals concerned, shame on all who spoke against them, particularly those who profess to represent us, the Priti Patel’s and the Keir Starmer’s who have demonstrated just how out of step with public opinion, which has spoken today, they truly are and that direct action of this kind is entirely right, lawful and morally justified if those in power continue to ignore such issues.