The bronze memorial to Edward Colston situated in Bristol city centre since 1895, was torn down after Black Lives Matter crowds left College Green. It has been the subject of an 11,000-strong petition to have it removed. Earlier, protestor John McAllister, 71, tore down black bin bags used to hide the statue to denounce it in front of fellow protesters.
He said: “It says ‘erected by the citizens of Bristol, as a memorial to one of the most virtuous and wise sons of this city’.
“The man was a slave trader. He was generous to Bristol but it was off the back of slavery and it’s absolutely despicable. It’s an insult to the people of Bristol.”
Protesters used rope to tear down the statue and then protesters danced around the fallen monument.
The mass protests come following the death of George Floyd who died in America when he was in police custody.
Tens of thousands of people across the world have come together in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The statue was erected in the centre of Bristol in 1895 to commemorate Colston’s philanthropy.
Social media user Martin Booth said on Twitter: “Speeches are taking place on the plinth where Colston’s statue used to stand before protesters pulled it down earlier today.”
Some protesters knelt on the neck of the statue after they tore it down.
An estimated 5,000 protesters were in the city’s College Green area where they heard from speakers and held an eight-minute silence, which was the amount of time Mr Floyd was filmed with a policeman kneeling on his neck.
Avon and Somerset Police superintendent Andy Bennett has said officers have launched an investigation to identify a small group of people “who clearly committed an act of criminal damage” in pulling down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston.