Angry protesters in St. Louis, Missouri shouted down a young Catholic priest who tried to defend a statue of the city’s namesake. The activists sought to destroy the monument in a wave of statue-toppling sweeping the US.

Priest Stephen Schumacher was filmed in Forest Park defending an equestrian statue of French King Louis IX (1226-1270), the city’s namesake, who was canonized by the Catholic Church.

“Saint Louis was a man who willed to use his kingship to do good for his people,” Schumacher said through a loudspeaker to a crowd of angry protesters demanding to have the statue taken down. He insisted that the king had “nothing to do with Africans,” since during the Crusades he fought against Muslim Arabs, who themselves conquered North Africa centuries prior to that. 

Video from this moment earlier.

The priest attempted to tell the protesters more about the history of the Crusades, but was shouted down several times, while some said, “let him speak.”

Schumacher also asked the crowd to learn more about Louis IX by visiting the local cathedral. One man responded, saying: “Eventually, we’re taking that [down] too, though.”

Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists and their allies have been defacing and toppling statues of historic figures, associated by some with slavery, racism, and colonialism, all over the country. In most places, their actions have been met with virtually no resistance. St. Louis proved to be a different story, where a local Catholic community has been holding prayer sessions in Forest Park in defense of the statue.

About a dozen St. Louis police officers have formed a line between those saying prayers and those who want the King Louis IX statue removed.

On Friday, opponents and defenders of the monument held simultaneous rallies. Fierce arguments and episodic fistfights broke out at the event, but no one was hurt, local media reported. Some BLM activists threw pink liquid at the counter-protesters.

About a dozen St. Louis police officers have formed a line between those saying prayers and those who want the King Louis IX statue removed.

Before the demonstration, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones was blasted on social media for calling those opposed to toppling the statue “an alt-right/KKK rally.”

Catholics remember Louis IX for his defense of the Christian faith and various charitable endeavors. His critics point out that he actively took part in the Crusades and oversaw the burning of Jewish religious texts in Paris.

The wave of statue-toppling follows widespread protests against police brutality sparked by the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota last month. The activists initially targeted Confederate monuments, but soon began taking down statues of abolitionists and people such as Christopher Columbus, as well as Presidents George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant.

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