Superintendent Andy Bennet was in charge of the response — or non-response — to BLM activists pouring into the streets of Bristol despite a national lockdown to topple a 125-year-old bronze of Edward Colston (1636-1721), a figure once revered as a great Christian philanthropist responsible for endowing many almshouses, schools, and other charitable organisation who has since been transformed into a hate figure for his then-unremarkable business links to the slave trade.
“I do understand why it’s happened, it’s very symbolic,” Bennett
told reporters after the incident, which saw officers look on as BLM activists spend some considerable amount of time defacing the fallen statue and then dragging it through the streets to throw into the harbour.
“We made a very tactical decision that to stop them from doing the act may have caused further disorder, and we decided the safest [thing] to do, in terms of our policing tactics, was to allow it to take place,” he went on.
“[T]he right thing to do was just to allow it to happen, because what we did not want is tension,” he concluded — more or less admitting that he was unwilling to enforce the law for fear of upsetting BLM.
Superintendent Andy Bennett (Avon and Somerset Police)
Bennett’s lack of action was harshly criticised by many, but he would later
double down on his behaviour, saying: “No one got hurt and we had no arrests in the whole protest. That is 10,000 passionate people. Bristol should be proud of itself.”
The ineffectual officer’s summary of events neatly skips over the fact that the reason there were no arrests or scuffles with police is that the police simply allowed activists to break the law unmolested, however.
“I am humbled to receive this award, particularly at a time when so many are working tirelessly to help others during the pandemic,”
said Bennett, of Avon and Somerset Police, after receiving his Queen’s Policing Medal in Boris Johnson’s New Year Honours.
“I also want to recognise those members of the community who have been prepared to take a step forward, to talk to us and help to break down barriers so we can move towards our goal of truly representing the diverse citizens of Bristol,” he added.
Prominent Black Lives Matter activist Lewis Hamilton, of Formula One fame, received the even higher honour of a knighthood in the same Honours list.
Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage, controversially, received nothing.