Catholics, Alt Right Clash With Protesters over Louis IX StatueBreaking News
tags: statues, St. Louis, public history, White Supremacy, Alt-Right
Over the past few weeks, statues of racist historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Confederate soldiers have been removed – either pre-emptively by city and state governments, or by groups of protesters armed with ropes and chains – all over the world as people rise up against racism. The removals have come in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis on May 25 – which sparked global protests that are still underway.
Here in St. Louis, a statue of Columbus in Tower Grove Park was taken down on June 17th.
St. Louis resident Umar Lee, however, is not satisfied. Lee, a Muslim and activist, has worked alongside Moji Sidiqi to start a petition to remove all symbols of King Louis IX of France from the metropolitan area. Louis IX was the only king of France to be canonized in the Catholic church, and the city was named after him by French colonizers in 1764. Lee’s petition hinges on Louis IX’s historical antisemitism. One of the things he was canonized for was orchestrating the burning of thousands of copies of the Talmud – the Jewish holy book – and Islamophobia. He used money he had seized from Jewish moneylenders in his own kingdom to finance two brutal crusades against Muslims in Egypt and Tunisia.
On June 24th, Jim Hoft, of at the conservative blog “The Gateway Pundit,” called “all Catholic and Christian men and their allies” to gather for a prayer rally at the statue that upcoming Saturday. Rumors quickly spread on Facebook and Instagram that neo-Nazi and alt-right groups would be attending the rally.
In response, many local activists decided to take their own stand to call for the statue’s removal and to mobilize against the alt-right.
At around 11 a.m., several dozen Catholics – a predominantly white group – and others, including at least two identified members of the white supremacist hate group the Proud Boys, gathered at the statue to pray and to speak about how they believed it should not come down. While there were five men at the gathering who identified themselves as members of the Proud Boys, those whose names have been confirmed as of this writing are Mike Lasater and Luke Rohlfing.
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