Protesters in the city of Bristol, in the south-west of England, tied the bronze statue of Edward Colston with a rope before knocking it over to the applause of the surrounding crowd.
Protesters were then seen rolling the statue into the nearby harbor and throwing it into the Avon River.
Although the incident sparked many celebrations among the protesters, local police said an investigation had been opened into the incident.
“There was a small group of people who clearly committed a crime by cutting down a statue near Bristol Harborside,” Avon and Somerset police said on Sunday. “An investigation will be carried out to identify the people involved and we are already collecting images of the incident. “
“Insulted slave trafficker”
The Bristol Museums website describes Colston as a “revered philanthropist / vilified slave trader”.
He says he was born in the city in 1636, but spent his professional life in London, becoming “an active member of the RAC governing body. [Royal African Company], who traded enslaved Africans for 11 years. “
The site says Colston has donated most of his fortune to charity with restrictions to ensure that the recipients match his religious affiliations.
Local police said Sunday’s Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol was attended by around 10,000 people.
“The vast majority of those who came to express their concerns about racial inequality and injustice did so in a peaceful and respectful manner,” said police officers from Avon and Somerset.
“Public safety was not the top priority and fortunately, there were no incidents of disorder and no arrests were made,” said the police.