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One and a half cheers for the statue topplers

The drive to make our public spaces more diverse is clearly worthy of support. But aspects of the latest saga leave me uneasy

By Julian Baggini  

The empty plinth where Colston stood. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images

It wasn’t exactly Baghdad, April 2003, but the toppling of a statue in Bristol this weekend feels like an important symbolic moment. A small group of citizens, cheered on by many more, brought down the statute of a 17th-century slave trader and hurled it into the floating harbour.

A lot has changed since it was erected 125 years ago. No decent Bristolian would possibly agree with the original plaque that called Colston “one of the most…

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