'Love locks' to be removed from bridge with 'slavery links'
Activists have launched a campaign to remove lovelocks from a Bristol bridge after claiming the arch has links to slavery.
Couples covered Pero's Bridge, which was named after an eighteenth-century slave, with romantic padlocks since its construction in 1999.
The 'Lovelocks' have been visible on the bridge ever since its construction in 1999, copying the tradition best known from the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris.
While the locks are technically not allowed, Bristol City Council have never enforced a ban on the practice - instead removing the locks every few years.
But now, city resident Helen Tierney says that Pero was never granted his freedom - and the thousands of 'hideous' love locks dishonour his memory.
In a petition on 38 Degrees, she is calling on Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees to remove the locks from the bridge which is 'weighed down by the very symbols of oppression'.
She wrote: 'To Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol. In the heart of Bristol is a pedestrian bridge crossing the harbour.
'The City Council agreed the name Pero's Bridge to honour a young enslaved African, Pero Jones, who in the 18th century was sold into slavery aged 12 & brought by his 'owner' to live in Bristol.
'Pero was never granted his freedom & died enslaved. A tiny plaque by the bridge tells this story.
'Pero's Bridge is now defaced with thousands of padlocks, so called 'lovelocks' locked on to its structure.
'The keys most likely dropped into the water below. Only a few steps from the bridge is the place where, in 2020, the statue of slave trader Edward Colston was thrown into the harbour.
'I call upon the Mayor & City Councillors of Bristol to remove these hideous padlocks, not symbols of love at all but of oppression down the centuries, of enslaved people chained & padlocked with the keys thrown away, those people disrespected still today in the very place where they should be honoured.'
The pedestrian bridge linking Queen Square and Millennium Square also sits a matter of meters from the site of controversial Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.
In that protest, campaigners famously threw a statue of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston into the city harbour just meters from the bridge.
The statue was later recovered and put on exhibition from June 4 to September 5 2021 at the M Shed museum in Bristol.