Protester involved in pulling down abolitionist's statue in Wisconsin gets 6 months in jail

A man who drove the car that helped pull down the statue of a Civil War hero and abolitionist outside of the Wisconsin state Capitol during a night of protests in 2020 has been sentenced to six months in jail

ByThe Associated Press
May 26, 2023, 9:43 AM
Capitol Protests Statue
A statue of Han Christian Heg stands outside the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison, Wis., on May 11, 2023. A man who helped topple the statue of the Civil War hero and abolitionist has been sentenced to six months in jail for the damage he caused and for looting a nearby jewelry store. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. -- A man who drove the car that helped pull down the statue of a Civil War hero and abolitionist outside of the Wisconsin state Capitol during a night of protests in 2020 has been sentenced to six months in jail.

The statue of Hans Christian Heg was toppled and beheaded during a protest in downtown Madison in June 2020 against police brutality. Protests began a month earlier over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and flared up again that June after Madison police arrested a Black activist.

Kelsey D. Nelson, 33, was sentenced for his role in damaging the Heg statue and for looting a nearby jewelry store about a month earlier, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Friday.

Nelson apologized in court, saying he was “someone who was trying to make a difference.”

“I was just a person who woke up and saw the injustice done to a man named George Floyd,” Nelson said. “Am I going to say what I did was right? I am not.”

Nelson was also ordered to pay $5,000 to the jewelry store, a cost to be shared with two other people, and $2,500 to the state Department of Administration for the damage to the Heg statue, a cost to be shared with four others.

Most of the original Heg statue has been restored, but the head was stolen and had to be recreated. A man convicted of misdemeanor theft for stealing the head has since returned it to the state.