A pair of climate activists in Scotland will face trial after allegedly vandalizing a display case holding national hero William Wallace’s broadsword.
“The police say the accused believe they were raising awareness of climate change and that their actions were necessary for the cause,” prosecutor Eilidh Smith said.
Alexander Cloudley, 29 and Katrielle Chan, 21, both from Glasgow, pleaded not guilty to vandalism in Stirling Sheriff Court last week. They allegedly damaged and spray-painted the case holding Wallace of “Braveheart” fame’s sword.
They each face a single charge alleging that, on March 2, they entered the National Wallace Monument and “willfully or recklessly destroyed or damaged property belonging to another” by “repeatedly striking a glass display cabinet with mallets and chisels.”
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The activists also allegedly spray-painted the case with “This is Rigged,” the name of their protest group, The Scotsman reported.
The Crown court did not oppose bail for the activists, but it did seek to ban them from entering the city of Stirling, where the Wallace monument is located, except to attend court dates.
Cloudley and Chan were arrested on site, but Police Scotland said “inquiries are ongoing” into the incident.
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A post on Instagram, which includes pictures of the suspects allegedly vandalizing the display case, said the group’s intent was to “continue in civil resistance until our demands are met.”
“We demand the Scottish Government vocally oppose all new fossil fuel projects in Scotland and creates 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, suffragettes stood in this very spot to stand up for their rights and freedom, 600 years before William Wallace defended our freedom with this very sword. Now it is time for us to stand up for our rights too.”
Wallace defied the English at a time when Scotland remained subject to its southern neighbor, helping wage the Scottish War of Independence that ultimately resulted in Scotland breaking away — for a time — from English governance.
The sword on display in his monument is one he allegedly wielded 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 movie “Braveheart,” which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1996.
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Climate protests in Britain have targeted a number of culturally significant artifacts and pieces, including a famous incident last year in which anti-oil environmentalists poured tomato soup on Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting at London’s National Gallery.
Protesters from “Just Stop Oil” also glued themselves to the frame of a famous John Constable painting hanging in Britain’s National Gallery in June.