A Southern Baptist preacher said Wednesday that he would rather die than go back to jail for protesting during the Confederate flag removal protests of 2017.
“We’re living in a time when we can’t be in a jail cell, we’re living with a climate where we can be in prison,” said Robert Jones, a pastor at St. James Episcopal Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It is a very dangerous time for us, for our country and our people to be in that situation.”
Jones said he would be willing to die in prison if the flag were removed from the state Capitol grounds.
Jones, who is black, was arrested and charged with felony contempt for standing on the grounds of the statehouse.
He said he will file a lawsuit in federal court seeking to prevent the removal of the Confederate banner.
He called the protest illegal and a violation of the First Amendment.
“I am willing to go to jail if the Confederate Flag is not removed from state capitols,” Jones said.
“I’m willing to fight for the right of our country to remain free.
It is the right thing to do.”
Jones has been a vocal critic of the removal protests and the state of Kentucky over the years, saying he believes the flag has been hijacked by white supremacists.
He has also been critical of President Donald Trump, who has spoken out against the protests.
“This country is being destroyed,” Jones told The Washington Post.
“There is nothing more important than the survival of our civilization.
We need to fight and win and protect the future.
That is what we have to do, because that is what the future is.”
The pastor, who was arrested in August 2017 and charged as a hate crime, has been sentenced to four years of probation.
He also has agreed to spend five years on house arrest.