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Officials remove statue of Black protester that replaced toppled UK slave trader

The statue, titled “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid),” had replaced the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century trader who made a fortune transporting enslaved Africans.

LONDON, UK — Officials in the English city of Bristol on Thursday removed a statue of a Black Lives Matter activist that was installed on a plinth once occupied by a monument to a 17th-century slave trader.

Artist Marc Quinn created the resin and steel likeness of Jen Reid, a protester photographed standing on the plinth after demonstrators pulled down the statue of Edward Colston and dumped it in Bristol’s harbor on June 7.

It was erected before dawn on Wednesday without the approval of city authorities, but 24 hours later it was gone.

Bristol City Council said the sculpture "will be held at our museum for the artist to collect or donate to our collection.”

Colston was a trader who made a fortune transporting enslaved Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas on Bristol-based ships. His money funded schools and charities in Bristol, 120 miles (195 kilometers) southwest of London.

The toppling of his statue was part of a worldwide reckoning with racism and slavery sparked by the death of a Black American man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May.

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Credit: AP
Jen Reid poses for photographs in front of the new black resin and steel statue portraying her, entitled "A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020" by artist Marc Quinn after the statue was put up this morning on the empty plinth of the toppled statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston, which was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, England, Wednesday, July 15, 2020. On June 7 anti-racism demonstrators pulled the 18-foot (5.5 meter) bronze likeness of Colston down, dragged it to the nearby harbor and dumped it in the River Avon — sparking both delight and dismay in Britain and beyond. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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City authorities fished the Colston statue out of the harbor and say it will be placed in a museum, along with placards from the Black Lives Matter demonstration.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said the decision about what replaces it must be made by the people of Bristol.

“This is not about taking down a statue of Jen, who is a very impressive woman,” Rees told the BBC. “This is about taking down a statue of a London-based artist who came and put it up without permission.”

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Credit: AP
Contractors remove the statue "A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020" by artist Marc Quinn, which had been installed on the site of the fallen statue of the slave trader Edward Colston, in Bristol, England, Thursday, July 16, 2020. The sculpture of protester Jen Reid was installed without the knowledge or consent of Bristol City Council and was removed by the council 24 hours later. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)