If you happen to be looking for the Edward Colston statue in Bristol, England, try finding it at its new location: in the harbor, at the bottom of the river.
If you’re not sure exactly where, you can try checking Google Maps. It’s been updated with the statue’s new underwater location. (It may be changed back when you go to look, though; keep reading.)
An estimated 10,000 people showed up in Bristol, England on Sunday for a Black Lives Matter protest in solidarity with the hundreds of cities across the United States which have been protesting the police killing of George Floyd.
During the protest, some attendees tied a rope around the memorial of Edward Colston in Bristol, where the bronze statue has stood since 1895. Colston was a 17th century English slave trader and former member of Parliament. He was responsible for transporting more than 100,000 slaves from West Africa.
Some were quick to point out how Colston was a well-known philanthropist, supporting schools, hospitals and various other charities. A number of city landmarks and establishments bear his name. However, what needs to be mentioned along with these charitable efforts is how he funded all this with money he made from the slave trade.
The demonstrators proceeded to topple the statue. One protester kneeled down on its neck after it fell, in a nod to Floyd, who was killed when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes while three other officers both looked on and, in two cases, helped.
Protesters then dragged the statue to the harbor and pushed it over a guardrail, where it fell into the Avon River, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
Shortly after, as word spread, many users on social media platforms like Twitter had noticed that a Google Maps search was now showing the statue’s new location: at the bottom of the river. The statue was later updated with additional info, obviously crowdsourced by users, like how the memorial was “permanently closed.”
I checked Google Maps to confirm. However, at the time that I looked, the updated location of the statue had reverted back to its original spot… where the statue is no longer located.
Well that was fast – search for “statue of edward colston” on Google Maps and you get a little animation reflecting its new location pic.twitter.com/yqZTmlwWzv
— Simon Willison (@simonw) June 7, 2020
Local law enforcement have condemned the toppling of the statue. An investigation has been opened to find out who was responsible for taking it down.
Statement from Bristol Area Commander Superintendent Andy Bennett following Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol 👇 pic.twitter.com/sAXbVBbcAr
— Avon and Somerset Police (@ASPolice) June 7, 2020
The Colston statue has been a point of contention in the Bristol community since well before the current police brutality protests. In 2018, the Lord Mayor of Bristol a portrait of the slave trader that hung in city hall. A petition to the statue already existed, garnering 11,000 signatures.
Protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd continue to spread across the United States and around the world.