The Sun : Black Lives Matter protester who led slave trader statue toppling even admits police should have done more

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THE protester who led the slave trader statue toppling in Bristol yesterday was critical of the police response – saying they "did nothing".

John McAllister, 71, a former university research assistant, said he "set the spark" for the toppling of the Edward Colston statue where demonstrators dumped it into the harbour.

London News Pictures
Protesters in Bristol threw the statue of Edward Colston into the harbour [/caption]
SWNS:South West News Service
The statue was dropped into a nearby river by Black Lives Matter protesters [/caption]

Mr McAllister said the watching cops could easily have intervened in the "dangerous" situation by breaking up the "very peaceful" crowd.

He said: "I guess I'm the guy who kicked it off. The police did nothing. I saw some of them there, but they didn't lift a finger. It was so dangerous. The first duty of the police is to protect the health and lives of the public, but they did nothing."

The protester said the dumping of the statue in the harbour was spontaneous.

He said: "It was covered in a sort of huge black cloth. I knew the plaque was at the bottom so I tore off the black covering and shouted to the crowd about the inscription. It says Teddy Colston was a virtuous and wise son of Bristol, but the man was a slave trader.

"I said 'this is an insult to our city'. People around me agreed, and they quickly tore off the whole shroud and started climbing over the statue.

"Then people wanted to tear it  down."

He compared the statue toppling to that of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in Baghdad in 2003.

STATUE TOPPLING

Marvin Rees, the Mayor of Bristol, said he felt no "sense of loss" for the statue, but told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "As an elected politician, obviously I cannot condone the damage and I am very concerned about the implications of a mass gathering on the possibility of a second Covid wave."

Home Secretary Priti Patel has branded the incident "utterly disgraceful", while crime, policing and justice minister Kit Malthouse today called for those responsible to be prosecuted.

"A crime was committed, criminal damage was committed, there should be evidence gathered and a prosecution should follow," he told BBC Breakfast.

John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers in England and Wales, criticised Avon and Somerset Police for its decision not to intervene in the protest.

He told BBC Breakfast: "To have no police presence there I think sent quite a negative message.

"I understand there has been a lot of controversy about this statue for many years – so the question is: why didn't those in the local authority consider taking it down long before, rather than waiting for these actions?"

Historic England said it did not believe the statue of Edward Colston "must be reinstated".

SWNS:South West News Service
The statue was rolled along the street before being dropped into the river[/caption]
SWNS:South West News Service
Protesters gathered in Bristol yesterday for the Black Lives Matter rally[/caption]

The Prime Minister said anti-racism demonstrations have been "subverted by thuggery" after protesters tore down the statue in Bristol and clashed with police in London.

Scotland Yard said 12 people were arrested and eight officers injured as bottles and other objects were thrown in central London on Sunday.

Black Lives Matter demonstrations were carried out peacefully for much of Sunday afternoon in London.

But there were a number of clashes with police on Whitehall, with bottles thrown at officers in one incident near the Cenotaph just before 9pm.

Graffiti was scrawled on the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square.

On Sunday evening, Boris Johnson tweeted: "People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police.

"These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery – and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve.

"Those responsible will be held to account."

It comes after Scotland Yard said 29 people were arrested and 14 officers were injured during clashes between police and protesters on Saturday.

Sunday's Black Lives Matter rallies attracted thousands of people right across the UK.

Reuters
Protesters clash with police in London yesterday during the Black Lives Matter demonstration [/caption]
Reuters
A woman stands in front of police officers during the Black Lives Matter protest [/caption]

 



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