MADISON, Wisconsin — 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.