Criminal damage charges have been laid following the overturning of a statue of 17th century British slave trader Edward Colston.
Four people have been charged with criminal damage related to the overturning of a statue of a 17th-century British slave trader, prosecutors said.
The defendants, aged 21 to 32, will appear before magistrates in Bristol, west England, on January 25, the Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement on Wednesday.
The bronze statue of Edward Colston, a former senior official of the Royal African Company, was demolished during an anti-racism protest on June 7.
His overthrow was part of protests in multiple countries against racism and slavery, sparked by the death of a black American, George Floyd, at the hands of police in Minneapolis, United States, in May.
The statue was dragged through town and dumped in the harbor. Bristol City Council later recovered it and said damage estimated at a cost of 3,750 pounds ($ 5,000) had been caused.
No arrests were made at the time but the CPS, which handles prosecutions in England and Wales, said it “had cleared the charges following a review of a case of evidence ”from the police.
The Royal African Company sent hundreds of thousands of West African men, women and children into slavery in the Caribbean and the Americas.
Many bore the company’s initials.
Colston was also a Conservative Member of Parliament and a philanthropist. He was a major benefactor of Bristol, with streets and institutions bearing his name.
The toppling of the statue has sparked debate over racism, historical commemoration and calls on the UK to reassess the legacy of its colonial past, including prominent figures involved in or benefiting from the slave trade.
In September, Bristol’s Colston Hall arts and entertainment venue announced it was changing its name to Bristol Beacon, saying it did not want to be associated with him.
In October, a majority of staff and students at the town’s Colston’s School for Girls voted for a name change after consultation.
In July, a sculpture of a black woman who helped bring down the Colston statue was installed on the empty plinth, before being removed by city council.
Earlier this month, a figure of the Star Wars character, Darth Vader, briefly passed the structure.
City officials have fished the Colston statue out of the harbor and said it will be placed in a museum, along with signs from the Black Lives Matter demonstration.