A man in St Louis has been charged with four counts of fourth-degree assault after police say he threw punches at people praying and defending a statue of St Louis during a recent protest.
Terrence Page, 34, admitted to News 4 that he threw the punches, saying, “Real change doesn’t happen unless you take those risks.”
He said he thought there were KKK members defending the statue, and argued that “their presence alone is terrorism, because they instill fear.”
The incident took place June 27 near the Apotheosis of St Louis statue, which sits in the city’s Forest Park in front of the Saint Louis Art Museum. It was erected in 1906 and depicts Louis IX of France, for whom the city is named.
In recent weeks, some protestors have called for the removal of the statue, as well as the renaming of the city. On June 27, some 200 people surrounded the statue in protest. One organizer said the statue “represents hate” and “is not a symbol of our city in 2020.”
Catholics defending the statue at the protest prayed the rosary and sang, and several police officers separated them from the protesters.
Videos posted online appear to show Page confronting counter-protestors, growing agitated, and punching at least person in the head repeatedly. Police say there were four victims of the assault. One of the individuals was later diagnosed with a concussion, according to local media.
Page defended his actions, telling News 4, “Maybe you can slap some sense into somebody sometimes. And they’ll think differently.”
St Louis was King of France from 1226-70, and he partook in the Seventh and Eighth Crusades. He restricted usury and established hospitals, and personally cared for the poor and for lepers. He was canonized in 1297.
The Archdiocese of St Louis released a June 29 statement defending the city’s namesake.
“For Catholics, St Louis is an example of an imperfect man who strived to live a life modeled after the life of Jesus Christ. For St Louisans, he is a model for how we should care for our fellow citizen, and a namesake with whom we should be proud to identify,” the archdiocese said.
It highlighted St Louis’ care and concern for his subjects, especially the poor— pointing to reforms that he implemented in French government, which focused on impartial justice, protecting the rights of his subjects, steep penalties for royal officials abusing power, and a series of initiatives to help the poor.