Campaigners who want the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston restored to its plinth in Bristol are urging supporters to block-book tickets to the museum where it is on display daubed with graffiti, so that that no one can see it there.
As the 19th-century bronze memorial went on display in Bristol, the Save Our Statues campaign group, which calls for the preservation of Britain’s “precious cultural furniture”, mobilised supporters to book tickets to the M Shed museum.
“Tuesday is now booked up,” the group said in a Twitter post on Sunday. “Keep going with the rest of the week. It’s free to book (and it would be a real shame if nobody turned up ;)."
The tickets site of the M Shed museum shows that Wednesday is now also fully booked. The Guardian contacted M Shed for comment on the protest by Save Our Statues, and to find out whether it was having an impact on visitor numbers.
Some replies to the Save Our Statues Twitter post were critical of the action. One poster, who identified himself as Matt Ray, ha scritto: “So you’re called ‘save our statues’ and you’ve deliberately stopped people seeing a statue. How does that work? Shouldn’t you call yourself, ‘We demand statues on our terms or not at all!'"
Others were supportive. An account under the name Derick Norton quoted the original tweet and disse: “Done with pleasure. Let’s get organized and block out the entire exhibition.”
In una dichiarazione posted to Twitter, Save Our Statues said the protest was “a stand for due process” and criticised the Colston exhibit as “a celebration of criminal violence and mob rule”.
It said the council had an obligation to repair the statue, which had been “a Grade II listed piece of UK heritage”.
“As a matter of democratic principle, the first step must be to repair and reinstate the statue, and then if the council wants to run a democratic process it can,"ha detto la dichiarazione. “Unlike what happened one year ago today, this is a peaceful and civilised way to exercise our democratic right to protest.”
Colston’s statue went on display at the M Shed museum in Bristol on Friday. Any visitors who do manage to get in will find it supine and still covered in red and blue graffiti on a wooden stand, alongside placards from the protest on 7 giugno 2020 and a timeline of events.
On that day, exactly a year ago, protesters cheered as the statue was pulled down with ropes and dragged through the city to the harbour. It was pushed into the waters from Pero’s Bridge – named in honour of Pero Jones, an enslaved man who lived and died in the city.
On the day the exhibit opened, the historian David Olusoga said the statue had been transformed from “a mediocre piece of late-Victorian public art” into “the most important artefact you could select in Britain if you wanted to tell the story of Britain’s tortuous relationship with its role in the Atlantic slave trade.”
On Sunday a plaque was placed at the spot where the Colston statue was pushed into the water to mark the anniversary. According to a statement sent to the Guardian by a group calling itself Guerilla Hiztory, the plaque was designed by John Packer, a Bristol-based artist, and installed by anonymous well-wishers.
An engraving on the plaque described the circumstances in which the statue was pulled down. It also includes an abridged version of the poem Hollow by Vanessa Kisuule, Bristol City poet 2020, which reads: “You came down easy in the end. As you landed A piece of you fell off, broke away, And inside, nothing but air. This whole time, you were hollow.”
A spokesperson for the group said: “The toppling of Colston’s statue was a pivotal moment in a global popular uprising, and the enormous symbolic and historical significance of this event reverberated around the world.
“We all want a fuller, richer understanding of British history – more history, not less – and we hope this plaque can make a small contribution to that shared goal.”
The Guardian has contacted Bristol council for comment.