The sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protestor has replaced the toppled statue of a 17th Century slave trader in England.
The model of BLM protestor Jen Reid was snuck onto the Bristol pedestal that housed the 125-year-old statue of Edward Colston until demonstrators hauled it down and dragged it into the nearby harbor on June 7, the BBC reported Wednesday.
Reid told the network she was walking past the empty pedestal after the protest when she was inspired to climb on top and raise her fist in a spontaneous show of solidarity — with her husband taking a photo of the moment, the network said.
“I think it’s something the people of Bristol really appreciate seeing,” Reid said.
“When I stood there on the plinth and raised my arm in a Black Power salute, it was totally spontaneous,” she told the BBC. “I didn’t even think about it. It was like an electrical charge of power was running through me.”
The gesture caught the attention of artist Marc Quinn, who said he got in touch with Reid through social media and teamed up with the activist to create the black resin statue, which he snuck onto the pedestal in the wee hours Wednesday.
“I saw pictures of Jen on the plinth and she spontaneously made this gesture and I thought, ‘This is amazing,” Quinn said. “She’s made an extraordinary artwork just by doing that and it needs to be crystallized into an object and put back on the plinth.”
“It had to be in that public realm and I wanted to put it in that charged spot where Edward Colston had been before,” the London-based artist said.
The Colston statue had stood near Floating Harbor in Bristol since 1895.
Colston was an instrumental figure in the growth of Bristol but built much of his fortune through the slave trade — and became an early target of BLM protestors in the wake of George Floyd’s police custody death in Minneapolis on May 25.
However, it is now likely that Reid’s replacement statue may only stand in the harbor temporarily.
“I understand people want expression, but the statue has been put up without permission,” Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said on Twitter.
“Anything put on the plinth outside of the process we’ve put in place will have to be removed,” Rees said. “The people of Bristol will decide its future.”
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