The toppling of a statue during a Black Lives Matter protest last year was an “act of love”, a court has been told.
The toppling of a statue of 17th-century merchant Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest last year has been called an “act of love”.
Defendant Sage Willoughby made the comment during his trial at Bristol Crown Court on Wednesday.
According to the BBC, Willoughby and three other defendants have been accused of causing criminal damage during the Black Lives Matter protest, which took place in the city in June of 2020.
All four have denied the charge.
Willoughby, who claims to have been signing petitions to have the statue removed since he was 11, compared its presence to having a “Hitler statue in front of a Holocaust survivor”.
“Having a statue of someone of that calibre in the middle of the city I believe is an insult, and I will continue to believe that whatever the outcome of this [trial],” GB News reports the defendant as saying.
He also said that he was surprised at the time by the fact that it was able to be toppled.
“It is not something I expected was possible – when it happened I was as much surprised as thrilled and happy,” Willoughby said, saying that the only comparative reference for the incident he had at the time was the toppling of a statue of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, where vehicles were used.
When William Hughes QC, prosecuting, remarked that the statue of Saddam Hussein had been toppled during a time of conflict, and not during a peaceful march, Willoughby replied: “This is a time of conflict, racial inequality is a time of conflict.”
“Until equality is reached, it is a time of conflict,” the defendant reiterated.
Willoughby also rejected the notion that he was acting violently.
“That was not an act of violence, that was an act of love for my fellow man,” the defendant claimed.
When it was put to Willoughby that the march was “about people coming together to make a difference for black lives” and that “there was no need to take any further action”, the 22-year-old said that he disagreed.
“I don’t think I was thinking about the legal repercussions, I know the difference between right and wrong and that’s all that was going through my mind at that point,” he added.
The trial is ongoing as of the time of publication.
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