Bristol’s black mayor reveals he has been racially abused by supporters of Black Lives Matter and Britain First in city’s statues row
- Marvin Rees has received abuse from ‘both sides’ of the debate over statues
- The Bristol mayor revealed he has had thousands of abusive and racist emails
- They include messages from Britain First and Black Lives Matter supporters
- It comes amid row over the removal of statues of Edward Colston and Jen Reid
The Mayor of Bristol have revealed how he has been racially abused by both Britain First and Black Lives Matter protesters amid the removal of statues in the city.
Marvin Rees, 48, ordered the removal of a statue of Jen Reid, a Black Lives Matter protester, just 24 hours after it was erected on the empty plinth where a memorial to the 17th-century slaver Edward Colston had stood before being pulled down.
Now, the Bristol Mayor says he has received thousands of abusive and racist emails from Britain First supporters, as well as messages from BLM protesters calling him an ‘Uncle Tom’.
He has also been sent offensive books about Africa, golliwog pins and even death threats.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees has revealed he has received racist abuse from both Black Lives Matter protesters and Britain First
It comes after he ordered the removal of a statue of Jen Reid, a Black Lives Matter protester, just 24 hours after it was erected on the empty plinth where a memorial to the 17th-century slaver Edward Colston had stood
The dramatic moment that the statue of Edward Colston was pulled from its plinth in Bristol city centre, June 7
He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I had a black guy tell me I’m not black, then an email from someone saying, ”Go back to your own country”.
‘I get it from all sides.’
When elected in 2016, Mr Rees became one of the first city mayors of black African heritage in Europe.
He added that he was keen not to have the statue row define his leadership.
The toppling of the Colston statue around a month ago prompted a wave of attacks on varies monuments to historical figures from Britain’s past, including Winston Churchill, Oliver Cromwell and Admiral Lord Nelson.
Last week, Marc Quinn erected the sculpture of BLM protester Ms Reid where Colston’s stood.
Just over 24 hours later, the plinth was bare again after Ms Reid’s statue was removed by Bristol City Council.
Mr Rees has slammed Mr Quinn for acting without the council’s permission.
He said: ‘I didn’t take down the statue of a black woman. I took down the intervention of a white, London-based artist using his financial clout to put his work on that plinth.
‘I said to Marc Quinn, ”The emails from racists are coming to me – where are you?”.’
Bristol council workers arrived at the former memorial to Edward Colston to remove a statue of Black Lives Matter protester Jen Reid
Demonstrators then rolled the statue of the 17th century slave trader and pushed it into Bristol Harbour on Sunday, June 7
He also revealed that it could take up to two years to replace Colston’s statue with another historical figure, rejecting calls to allow Ms Reid’s statue to remain in place.
Mr Rees believes an empty plinth is ‘the best way to express the city’ amid the current climate.
‘I choose to focus on the issues of substance,’ he said. ‘Having said that, I have made no secret of my wish that the statue be taken down many, many years ago.
‘He [Colston] was a slave trader who may well have been involved in the transportation of my ancestors.’
Mr Rees supports Black Lives Matter but said he wants to be remembered for other issues – the affordable houses he built and the steps he took to ending period poverty or introducing the national living wage.
‘I didn’t take down the statue of a black woman. I took down the intervention of a white, London-based artist’
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