Durham District Attorney Roger Echols dropped all felony charges against the eight protesters connected with the Confederate statue toppling at their latest court appearance on Jan. 11.
The eight now face three misdemeanor charges, including defacing a public building or monument and injury to real property. Their court date is set for Feb.19.
“Since these outrageous charges were filed against us, thousands upon thousands of people from across the country have called the DA and other city officials demanding the charges be dropped,” Takiyah Thompson, one of the protesters and a student at N.C. Central University, said in a statement. “Dozens of solidarity actions have been held in numerous cities, and the Durham community has not only mobilized to every court appearance, but has continued to tirelessly struggle to topple this racist, white supremacist system.”
Protesters pulled the statue down from its base using a rope on Aug. 14, 2017. A Confederate statue at Duke University was vandalized later that week, and eventually removed.
“It is clear that the courts, the police and other government institutions conspire against the lives of poor people, people of color, queer people and so many more every single day,” Raul Jimenez, another arrestee, said in a statement. “The courts consider ‘injury’ to property of utmost importance; we say the ongoing injury of people’s lives is what really matters.”
The People’s Tribunal, a Durham group of community organizers, met on Jan. 13 at CityWell Church to discuss racial injustice. The Tribunal leveled charges against institutions that Jimenez said should be on trial instead of the protesters, including city, state and national officials.
A press release from Defend Durham said the group would charge the institutions with conspiracy and obstruction of justice to protect and uphold white supremacy, collusion with special interests to profit off the misery of communities of color as well as poor and working-class people, negligent and serial homicide: in public jails and detention centers and real crimes against the people: racism, homelessness, choosing profit over people.
“Dozens of solidarity actions have been held in numerous cities, and the Durham community has not only mobilized to every court appearance, but has continued to tirelessly struggle to topple this racist, white supremacist system,” Thompson said.
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