‘Colston Four’ appear in court amid protests and arrests
They will next appear in court on February 8th
Four people charged with criminal damage over the toppling of the Colston statue in the summer have appeared in court and plead “not guilty”, opting for a jury trial.
Protests took place outside of the court as the four appeared before a magistrate, with two men and two women detained by officers, while four others were given formal warnings.
Rhian Graham, 29, Jake Skuse, 36, and Sage Willoughby, 21, and Milo Ponsford, 25, were granted unconditional bail by district judge Lynne Matthews, and were ordered to appear again in court on February 8th.
Just arrived in Bristol for hearing of the anti-racism protesters who are accused of pulling down the bronze memorial to the 17th century slave merchant Edward Colston during the summers #BlackLivesMatter protests.
— Ahmed Kaballo (@AhmedKaballo) January 25, 2021
Avon and Somerset police warned the public in advance that gatherings of more than two people are prohibited under Coronavirus restrictions currently in place, with Inspector Rob Cheeseman saying: “There is no excuse for not knowing the rules as they are very clear and have been very well publicised – people must stay home except for in a very limited set of circumstances.
“Unlike during the first lockdown protests aren’t currently allowed and anyone thinking of flouting the rules and attending a protest is putting others at risk.”
The police praised more than 150 of the protesters who chose to protest on a Zoom call rather than join the “small number” who decided to protest in person. Reporters at the scene noted a significant police presence in advance of the hearing, with officers wearing extensive PPE.
One attendee arrived on a bicycle with a speaker system on a trailer, which the police ordered to be turned off, while others gave speeches and made their displeasure at the prosecution known.
The statue of Edward Colston was torn down on June 7th amid global protests against racism following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of US police officers only two weeks earlier.
Featured image credit: SWNS