After the statue of a Confederate soldier was pulled down in Durham, North Carolina, many waited tensely to see how city officials would react.
They’ve responded with the law, arresting Takiyah Thompson who draped the rope around the statue’s neck to help pull it down, according to ABC 11. Durham deputies have also announced that they’re searching for the others who helped and will charge them to the fullest extent of the law.
The statue’s destruction came as a response to the death of a woman in the protest in Charlottesville, Virginia as Time reported. Targeting the Confederate soldier statue outside of the former courthouse, protesters used a yellow cord to pull it down.
Rann Baron, a Duke University professor who was part of the group, said, “We won’t accept memorials to people who held slaves. If the city won’t do it, if the state won’t do it, then the people will do it.”
Thompson echoed this sentiment when she spoke with the press after being bailed out of jail on a $10,000 bond. “The people decided to take matters into our own hands and remove the statue. We are tired of waiting on politicians who could have voted to remove the white supremacist statues years ago, but they failed to act. So we acted.”
The situation has become increasingly tense as city officials scramble to uphold the law while retaining peace. Protesters in Durham have been demanding that criminal charges be dropped against those who participated in toppling the statue. However, the act is considered a felony as the memorials are considered government property.
Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) criticized the destruction of the monument, but sympathized with the reason it was done. “I don’t condone the destruction of government property, but I understand the hurt and pain the continued existence of Confederate monuments cause to many in our communities, whether it is on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, state capitals, or any other locations.”
Some individuals upset with the destruction of the monuments attacked the sheriff’s department for their inaction to halt the vandalism. Sheriff Andrews responded saying the use of pepper spray was debated, but rejected in order to prevent injuries and further rioting “Don’t mistake restraint for inaction. If I had my deputies to engage a hostile crowd, there would have been injuries.”
He assured that everyone witnessed at the scene and in the videos circulating the internet will be arrested “Last night we witnessed a blatant violation of the law. No one is getting away with damaging the Confederate statue. We will pursue felony charges.”
City officials in Durham are understandably hesitant to have the statue replaced or repaired considering the protests. When questioned about the plans for the statue, Durham County Commissioner Brenda A. Howerton responded, “We don’t know what our options are legally. I’m not speaking for the rest of my fellow commissioners, but personally and politically, I’m not interested in using taxpayers’ dollar to put it back up.”
An arrest has been made in the destruction of the Durham, North Carolina monument. Should felony charges be pressed?
While racism should rightfully be condemned, it’s extreme to state that a historical statue important to a city’s history advocates racism. It also doesn’t justify the vandalism and destruction of public and government property.
Understandably many people are upset by the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, but it should not justify criminal behavior to voice frustrations. A wise response would be to put an end to the violence that caused her death, and strive for peace and togetherness.