The grave of an African slave has been vandalised In Bristol and daubed with the message: “Put Colston’s statue back”.
This comes after the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled in the centre of the city earlier this month during Black Lives Matter protests.
But a message left in chalk near the grave in the Henbury area appears to show that not all are happy with the change in attitudes.
It reads: “Now look at what you made me do. Stop protesting. Leave Elliott’s grave alone. Put Colston’s statue back or things will really heat up.”
It is thought that the words ‘Elliott’ is music hall star GH Elliott, who used to perform in blackface as the ‘Chocolate Coloured C**n’.
Next of kin
It was reported last week that the Archdeacon of Brighton and Lewes wants to remove the “deeply offensive” stage persona from his headstone in East Sussex.
It has been covered up while officials from the churchyard try to trace any next of kin.
The councillor who represents the relevant ward in Bristol is now appealing for anyone who witnessed the “latest vandalism” to contact the police.
Sharing a photo of the desecrated spot on Facebook, Cllr Weston said: “Sadly late last night the listed grave of ‘Scipio Africanus’ in St Mary’s Churchyard, Henbury was badly damaged.
“This looks like a retaliation attack for the recent events involving the Colston statue. I am deeply saddened by what is happening.
“We have seen war memorials defaced and statues vandalised and I have to wonder where this will end.
“Our history is not simple, and a person’s actions are rarely clear cut. Our nation’s past is an intricate web of greatness, atrocity, heroism and villainy.
“We have good people that do bad things, bad people that occasionally strive for redemption and everything in between.
“This confusion becomes especially evident as we apply the lens of modern morality to the actions of centuries past.
“If anyone has any information on this latest vandalism then I would urge you to contact the police.”
Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees called for the public to refrain from “tit for tat” racially motivated attacks during a question and answer session yesterday (Weds).
He said: “[Scipio’s grave] is an iconic piece of Bristol’s history and that has been smashed in two with a message left scrawled on the floor around that.
“We just don’t want to go down the route. We don’t want to go down this tit-for-tat invisible attacks on each other.”
Little is known about Scipio but historians believe he may have been born into the household of Charles Howard and was the son of an enslaved West African woman.
Howard was the seventh Earl of Suffolk and had a large house in the Henbury area.
Scipio was named by his ‘owners’ after the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus.
It is thought that the 18-year-old was a well-loved member of the household because it was rare for an enslaved person to have a formal grave within a churchyard – let alone such an ornate one.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary is said to be investigating the tombstone damage.