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Wisconsin Capitol statue head thief gets probation

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A man who stole the head from the state Capitol statue of Hans Christian Heg during a night of protests in 2020 pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft on Wednesday and was sentenced to a year of probation.

Rodney Clendening, 36, of Beloit, was originally charged with felony theft, but the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor as part of a plea agreement that resulted in the probation imposed by Dane County Circuit Judge John Hyland.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wednesday that Clendening turned over the head of the statue to his attorney. Heg was an abolitionist and Union Army colonel during the Civil War.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said that because of that gesture, he agreed to reduce the charge.

Damage to the statue was estimated at the time at more than $50,000. It has since been restored, re-installed and rededicated at on the state Capitol grounds.

Protests in Madison over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police began in late May 2020. Protests the night of June 23 were in response to the arrest earlier in the day of local activist Devonere Johnson. He has since been convicted in federal court of extortion involving a Madison business.

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