Four people have denied committing criminal damage following the topping of slave trader Edward Colston’s statue in Bristol.
The memorial was torn down during a Black Lives Matter demonstration on 7 June and dumped in the harbour.
Police did not make any arrests when the statue came down, leading to criticism and defence of their approach to the incident – but officers launched an investigation after.
Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 36, and Sage Willoughby, 21, are alleged to have damaged the statue and plinth, which belong to the council, with other unknown people.
All but Ponsford, who is from Bishopstoke in Hampshire, are from Bristol. They appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
The four defendants pleaded not guilty and the case will now go to Bristol Crown Court on 8 February.
A small number of arrests were made outside the court after Avon and Somerset Police warned people against going to court to protest. An online protest also took place.