Now that a host of statues celebrating unsavory historical figures have been taken down across the U.S. (and elsewhere), one question that remains is what, if anything, should replace them? One possible idea came Wednesday from the coastal British city of Bristol, where activists replaced a fallen statue of a British slave trader with a resin-and-steel depiction a Black Lives Matter protester. The new statue was not authorized by the local government, so it was erected covertly after a weekslong operation by sculptor Marc Quinn to fashion the statue from an image of activist Jen Reid aided by coordination of local activists to quickly set the figure in place.
The plinth had been sitting vacant for five weeks since the statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was ripped from its perch and dumped in the nearby harbor last month. The sunrise operation took some 15 minutes, according to the Guardian. The new figure was stored nearby overnight and then raised using a hydraulic crane truck. Bristol’s mayor said in a statement Wednesday that the new statue was not part of the city’s plan for the site and “the future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol.” “In the weeks since the Colston statue was removed, although ideas including a Banksy proposal and calls for a statue of civil rights campaigner Paul Stephenson have been floated … no permanent decision on the future of the Colston site has been reached,” according to the Guardian.
“It’s just incredible,” Reid said of the statue after it had been erected. “That’s pretty fucking ballsy, that it is.”