A pair of climate activists in Scotland will face trial after allegedly vandalizing a display case bearing the sword of national hero William Wallace.
“Police say the defendants believe they were raising awareness of climate change and that their actions were necessary to the case,” said Prosecutor Eilidh Smith.
Alexander Cloudley, 29, and Catrill Chan, 21, both from Glasgow, pleaded not guilty to vandalism at Stirling Sheriff’s Court last week. They allegedly damaged and painted the box bearing Wallace’s “Braveheart” sword of fame.
They each face one charge that alleges that, on March 2, they entered the Wallace National Monument and “willfully or carelessly destroyed or damaged other property” by “repeatedly striking a glass display case with hammers and chisels.”
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Activists also spray-painted the issue with “This is a fraud,” The Scotsman reports, which is the name of their protest group.
The Crown Court did not oppose bail for the activists, but sought to prevent them from entering Stirling, where Wallace’s memorial is located, except to attend court dates.
Claudley and Chan were arrested at the scene, but Police Scotland said “investigations are ongoing” into the incident.
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An Instagram post, which includes photos of the suspects allegedly vandalizing the presentation of the case, stated that the group’s intention was to “continue civil resistance until our demands are met”.
“We are calling on the Scottish government to oppose all new fossil fuel projects in Scotland, and to put in place a clear transition plan for oil workers,” the group wrote.
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In a video posted to the group’s page, Chan read a statement after spray-painting the display case, saying, “One hundred and eleven years ago, suffragists stood up in this very place to defend their rights and freedom, 600 years before William.” Our freedom with this very sword. And now it’s time for us to defend our rights too.”
Wallace challenged the English at a time when Scotland remained subject to its southern neighbour, helping to launch the War of Scottish Independence that eventually led to Scotland’s separation – for a time – from English rule.
The sword displayed in his memorial is the one he allegedly used during the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and the Battle of Falkirk in 1298, according to Artnet News. The story inspired Mel Gibson to make the Academy Award-winning Braveheart, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1996.
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Britain’s climate protests have targeted a number of culturally significant artifacts, including a famous incident last year in which anti-oil environmentalists poured tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting in London’s National Gallery.
Just Stop Oil protesters attached themselves to the frame of John Constable’s famous painting hanging in Britain’s National Gallery in June.
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