LONDON — Just 24 hours after it was put up, a Black Lives Matter sculpture that replaced the statue of a slave trader in the British city of Bristol has been removed by authorities.
During protests that swept Europe following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, demonstrators in Bristol, a small city around 120 miles west of London, toppled the statue of Edward Colston, a city benefactor who made his fortune in the 17th-century slave trade, and tossed it into the harbor.
Early Wednesday, the British artist Marc Quinn erected his unauthorized replacement: a sculpture depicting one of the protesters, Bristol resident Jen Reid, giving a Black Power salute. Authorities have now used a crane to remove the life-size black resin artwork, titled “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020.”
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said he believes that whatever replaces Colston’s statue needs to reflect all aspects of the city’s history and must be decided by its residents.
“I prefer to say we’re not taking down the statue of a Black Lives Matter protester, we are taking down the work of a London-based artist who erected it without permission and without any conversation with the city,” Rees told Sky News, which, like NBC News, is owned by Comcast Corp., on Thursday.
The mayor, who is black, said he disliked Colston’s statue but disagreed with the way it was torn down. It has since been retrieved from the water and will be put in a museum. A committee of historians is now working to come up with a replacement that reflects the city’s past and represents its residents’ differing views, he said.
Quinn’s statue “was put up outside that process and therefore has to come down,” the mayor said. It will now be placed in storage.
Quinn has said that if the artwork is sold the proceeds will be donated to two charities promoting Black history.
Reid, the subject of the sculpture, said Wednesday she wanted the statue to remain in place.
But Quinn said he did not see it “as a permanent solution to what should be there — it’s a spark which we hope will help to bring continued attention to this vital and pressing issue.”