About 200 people gathered in St. Louis as Black Lives Matter activists announced a promise to tear down a statue of King Louis IX of France, after whom the city is named, leading to a clash between protesters.
“He’s gonna come down,” Umar Lee, one of the Saturday protest organizers,told theSt. Louis Post-Dispatchof the statue. “This guy right here represents hate, and we’re trying to create a city of love. We’re trying to create a city where Black lives matter. We’re trying to create a city where there is no anti-Semitism or Islamophobia … this is not a symbol of our city in 2020.”
Moji Sidiqi, another organizer of Saturday’s event and member of the Regional Muslim Action Network, suggested after the statue is torn down, a new monument should be erected in its place that celebrates the city’s diversity.
“It’s a revolution,” Sidiqi said. “It’s time for change … right now, our number one mission is to take this thing down and sit down with people who want to see positive change take place and continue to heal our country.”
The statue has sat atop Art Hill in the city’s Forest Park neighborhood since 1904. Protesters tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus in Tower Grove Park earlier this month.
Demonstrators on Saturday were met by several Christian activists, who argued the statue’s religious symbolism is too important to the city to remove it.
“I think he symbolizes deep faith and convictions,” local resident Maria Miloscia told thePost-Dispatch. “I stand for him. And I stand for those Catholic virtues and those Catholic values that I think are important, like courage, faith and love. But ultimately, I’m here for Christ the king.”
Miloscia and other sang and prayed near the statue’s base while protesters chanted, “Tear it down.”
“We’re here praying for peace, we truly are,” Daniel Koehler, another Christian counterprotester. “Christianity has lots of roots in America. What’s wrong with naming the city after a saint?”
After a few hours, police cleared the area without any major damage reported to the statue or any serious injuries from attendees.