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Banksy: Thousands queue for T-shirt by street artist to raise cash for four accused of toppling slave trader statue

Thousands of people queued outside shops in Bristol to buy a Banksy T-shirt designed to raise money for four defendants accused of pulling down a statue during a Black Lives Matter protest.

The world-famous street artist hopes the proceeds will allow the four defendants – facing trial for criminal damage over the toppling of the monument of 17th century slave trader Edward Colson – to “go for a pint”.

Images of the limited edition grey souvenir T-shirts have been posted on Banksy’s Instagram feed and on his website.

The clothing has the word Bristol written over the top in capital letters with a picture of Colston’s empty plinth underneath.

Within hours of the announcement, hundreds of people were seen queuing outside shops like Bristol’s Rough Trade.

Other shops in the city selling the T-shirts include Frontline Video in St Paul’s, Hakuna Matata, That Thing and Friendly Recs.

Among those queuing were brother and sister, Tom and Rosie Levins. Tom said: “I collect all the Banksy stuff I can get hold of.

“When stuff comes up in Bristol and you get a chance…”

What happened in Bristol?

The Colston statue was pulled down last year during a Black Lives Matter protest less than two weeks after the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.

Banksy said on his website: “Next week the four people charged with pulling down Colston’s statue in Bristol are going on trial.

“I’ve made some souvenir shirts to mark the occasion. Available from various outlets in the city from tomorrow (all proceeds to the defendants).”

On Instagram he added: “All proceeds to the defendants so they can go for a pint.”

The Bristol-based artist said sales would be limited to one per person and each T-shirt would cost £25 plus VAT.

Who are the accused?

Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 36, and Sage Willoughby, 21, are due to go on trial at Bristol Crown Court on Monday.

The bronze memorial was toppled on 7 June last year before being dumped in Bristol Harbour.

It was later recovered by the city council and put on public display in a different location.

Charges against the four defendants allege that they, without lawful excuse, jointly and with others, damaged the statue, a listed monument belonging to the city council.

The defendants are accused of “intending to destroy or damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be destroyed or damaged”.

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