Watch: Reactions to Colston 4 verdict after defendants released from court

On Wednesday, a jury found the Colston 4s not guilty of criminal damage to a statue of slave trader Edward Colston they helped topple in the summer of 2020. Jurors took just under three hours to take their decision.

In this video, Cable presenter Priyanka Raval speaks with a defense lawyer and two Colston 4 supporters on the steps of Bristol Crown Court moments after their acquittal.

During the trial, prosecutors alleged that the criminal damage to the monument was a “cold and hard fact”. But the defense argued that the defendants’ actions were proportionate because the statue’s presence in the city was a “hate crime”.

Christine Townsend, Southville Green Councilor and member of the prominent Countering Colston campaign group, said after the verdict that the town “had very strong supporters of the Colston cult and the Colston legacy”. She thought the jury must have “had a good history lesson on their own city – and probably a lot of people in the courtroom did.”

Raj Chada, a well-known protest lawyer speaking on behalf of the defense, said it was a “fairly heavy and poignant trial”. He also expressed his surprise that the council sent one of its officers as a prosecution witness.

However, the day after the trial, Mayor Marvin Rees, who has been criticized for his inaction on the statue, said the event was largely symbolic and had little to do with tackling racism.

As she left the courtroom, defendant Rhian Graham, 30, thanked the crowd of activists and supporters gathered outside the courtroom, saying: “We have never been alone on this journey.”

This may not be the end of the high-profile court case as the prosecution could appeal, but for now, after a tumultuous year and a half, the Colston 4 can rest easy.

About Jessica J. Bass

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