LONDON – Hundreds of people lined up Saturday in the English city of Bristol to get the latest work by elusive street artist Banksy – a T-shirt created to help four defendants charged over the toppling of a local statue of a slave trader.
The gray shirt features the word Bristol above the empty plinth on which the statue of 17th-century slave merchant Edward Colston long stood, with a rope hanging from it and debris scattered around.
Anti-racism demonstrators pulled down the statue and and dumped it in Bristol harbor in June 2020 amid global protests sparked by the police killing of a Black American man, George Floyd.
Four people have been charged with criminal damage over the statue’s felling and are going on trial next week.
“I’ve made some souvenir shirts to mark the occasion,” Banksy said on social media Friday. “Available from various outlets in the city from tomorrow. All proceeds to the defendants so they can go for a pint.”
Banksy said the T-shirts cost $33 and are limited to one per customer.
Banksy’s identity has never been confirmed, but he began his career spray-painting walls and bridges in Bristol, a port city in southwest England. Some of his works have sold for millions of dollars at auction.
Colston made a fortune transporting enslaved Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas on Bristol-based ships. He was a major benefactor to Bristol, with streets and institutions named for him – some of which have been renamed since the statue-felling sparked a debate about racism and historical commemoration.
City authorities fished the Colston statue out of the harbor and say it will be placed in a museum, along with placards from the Black Lives Matter demonstration.