The accused who tore down the Edward Colston statue have been found not guilty of criminal damage.

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The accused who tore down the Edward Colston statue have been found not guilty of criminal damage.

THE ACQUITTAL of four activists accused of defacing a slave trader’s statue has raised concerns that other monuments will be targeted.

“It is a disgraceful verdict that gives the green light to political vandalism and sets a precedent for anyone to be able to destroy whatever they disagree with,” Save Our Statues said in a statement.

The toppling of the bronze memorial to 17th-century merchant Edward Colston served as the defining image of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

Rhian Graham, 30, Milo Ponsford, 26, and Sage Willoughby, 22, were caught on camera passing the ropes used to pull down the statue around the statue.

Jake Skuse, 33, was accused of putting together a plan to toss it into the water.

However, after defense lawyers urged the jury to “be on the right side of history,” all four were acquitted.

The prosecution claimed that the case was about simple criminal damage and that Colston’s identity was “irrelevant.”

“This judgment legitimizes mob rule and puts all of our heritage at serious risk,” said Save Our Statues founder Robert Poll.

What is safe now, with all of British history tainted by increasingly tenuous links to slavery? What about those offended by Churchill?”

“If you acquit people for destroying statues, pavements, and harbour rails because they found something ‘offensive,’ you’ll lose control of your streets,” said Dr. Alan Mendoza of the Henry Jackson Society.

“A democracy in trouble is one in which laws do not apply to everyone.”

“You might think that if the prosecution had been there when the Berlin Wall was torn down, they would have been standing by with cement and trowel, wringing their hands and muttering about red tape and proper procedures not being followed,” Tom Wainwright, for Ponsford, told the court earlier.

Willoughby’s lawyer, Liam Walker QC, warned the jury that their decision would have global ramifications.

“I implore you to stay on the right side of history,” he said.

Following the not guilty verdicts, the packed public gallery erupted in applause.

The four defendants, three of whom were wearing Banksy T-shirts, laughed and hugged supporters outside the courtroom.

The garments, which featured an empty plinth, were sold to the public by the street artist to help the four pay their legal fees.

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