A city at odds over the enslaver who built it. As a historic statue falls, Bristol, England, confronts the pain of its racist past.

Standing beneath the stone plinth from which a statue of the 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled last week.

Richard Saunders showed his son photos of three black Americans who had been killed by the police an ocean away and 200 years after the end of the slave trade in Bristol, a port city in western England.

Mr. Saunders, a 51-year old veterinarian, explained to his son, Dylan, 9, what had happened to the three victims:

George Floyd, Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor. Connecting their deaths to Colston was harder - not just because he is such a distant figure, but also because his name is inscribed on a concert hall across the street, a school nearby, a pub up the hill and housing for the poor next to it.

''He's almost on the syllabus as the local hero,'' said Mr. Saunders, who is white. ''But it doesn't excuse the evil of his original acts. It's like a mugging a grandmother and giving half the money to charity.''

Bristol is, for all intent and purposes, the town that Edward Colston built. Tearing down his status has reopened a painful reckoning with the past - one that has long divided that city of  400,000, laying bare its contradictions.

It is multicultural but segregated, festive but given to spasms of unrest, liberal but enriched by the profits from slavery.

After the protesters toppled Colston, they dumped him in Bristol Harbor on June 7, a theatrical touch that recalled the rebellious British subjects in colonial Boston.

But this protest was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, not the Boston Tea Party, and it poses a nettlesome challenge to Bristol, similar to that faced by cities across the American South, where statues of Confederate generals are teetering.

Protests have also broken out in London, Paris, Berlin and other European cities, drawing attention to police brutality, targeting monuments to Winston Churchill and King Leopoid II of Belgium and igniting anguished debates about the difference between marking history and venerating its most oppressive actors.

''Some are elated about the statue coming down, some are confused, and some are very fearful and angry,'' the mayor, Marvin Rees, said in an interview. ''Some people are saying, 'Colston is Bristol, and therefore Colston is me. And if you take the statue down, you're taking something of me down.' ''

The Honor and Serving of the Pains of out Times, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Mark Landler.


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