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Toppled Statue to Be Displayed in Museum Next to BLM Protest Signs

FILE - The statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston falls into the water after protesters pulled it down during a protest against racial inequality, in Bristol, Britain, June 7, 2020. (Keir Gravil via Reuters)

A toppled statue of an Englishman involved in the slave trade in the British city of Bristol will be retrieved from the harbor and placed in a local museum to educate residents about the history of racism, the City Council announced Wednesday.

A statue of Edward Colston, a local philanthropist who worked for the Royal African Company in the 17th century, was toppled by anti-racism protesters and thrown into the harbor on Sunday.

In statement on the Council's website, Mayor Marvin Rees announced the creation of a new commission that will explore more fully the southern city's ties to racism and inequality.

"As a city, we all have very different understandings of our past," he wrote.

Rees noted that "Education of our history has often been flawed," and called for an increased "accuracy of our city's history which is accessible to all (and) will help us understand each other, our differences, our contradictions and our complexities."

FILE - A banner is taped over the inscription on the pedestal of the toppled statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, England, June 8, 2020.
FILE - A banner is taped over the inscription on the pedestal of the toppled statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, England, June 8, 2020.

As part of the new exploration of the city's history, Colston's statue will be placed in a museum alongside signs from Sunday's Black Lives Matter protest.

It has not yet been determined who or what will replace Colston on the plinth.

Some activists have advocated for a statue of civil rights campaigner Dr. Paul Stephenson to be erected as a replacement, the BBC reports.

Stephenson spearheaded the Bristol bus boycott in the 1960s, which ultimately resulted in overturning a ban on ethnic minorities working on city buses.

Famed artist Banksy submitted an informal proposal on Instagram, suggesting that the statue be resurrected and restored to its plinth — with the addition of bronze protesters in the act of removing Colston.

"Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated," he wrote.

Edward Colston was a senior official in the Royal African Company, which in the late 1600s trafficked 80,000 African men, women and children to slavery in the Americas. According to the AP, Bristol's port transported at least half a million Africans into slavery before Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1807.

Upon his death in 1721, Colston bequeathed his fortune to charity. Many streets and schools in Bristol are named for Colston.