Gary Williamson, founder of ACTBAC N.C., appeared in court Monday to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge from the night the Confederate monument pedestal was removed from McCorkle Place on Jan. 14.
The group, officially titled Alamance County Taking Back Alamance County, was on UNC’s campus to oppose the removal of the pedestal ordered by former Chancellor Carol Folt, according to a Times-News article. The group also worked to display Confederate flags around the area.
Per the group’s official website: “ACTBAC started as a group that is willing and wanting to preserve our Southern rights and grow to show our support for not only our county but our state as a whole when faced with issues against our Confederate history.”
Williamson was the only person arrested the night of the removal. He was charged with one count of resisting, delaying or obstructing arrest and was also issued a warning of trespass from McCorkle Place.
On Monday, Williamson represented himself in court and plead guilty to his charge. Prior to defending his case, District Court Judge Samantha Cabe requested a summary of Williamson’s prior charges, one of which dated back to 1998.
“I’m guilty of what I did,” Williamson said. “Extremely, 100 percent guilty.”
Despite pleading guilty to the charge, Williamson continued explaining the reasons for his actions against the removal of the Confederate monument pedestal.
“Laws are laws, (and for the) last 20 years, I’ve stood by North Carolina’s laws,” Williamson said. “When the law breaks the law, the citizens have to do something.”
Following his arrest on Jan. 14, Williamson posted on the ACTBAC N.C. Facebook page, explaining the night’s event.
“There was a conflict last night,” the post read. “Yes, me, Gary Williamson, got arrested. I did not do what I did because I disrespect the laws. I did it because it was my rightful duty as a patriot, a citizen of the old North State, and a Southern symbol and history supporter, to make a stand to prevent the laws of our state being broken.”
In his court appearance Monday, Williamson repeated a similar logic to defend his actions.
“I didn’t want to do what I did,” Williamson said.
But Williamson said if it came down to it, he’d do it again.
“If I’m going to be convicted, then so is Chancellor Folt and those people at UNC,” Williamson said.
Cabe ordered Williamson to pay both the fine and the cost of court and dismissed him from the courtroom.
According to a News & Observer video, on Jan. 14, Williamson also ran toward a construction vehicle and attempted to slash its tire with a knife.
Officers shouted that Williamson had a knife in the video, but this was not included in his charges. His arrest report noted he was armed with a "lethal cutting" weapon.
Randy Young, media relations manager for UNC Public Safety, told the DTH that he did not receive a campus charge because it was a pocket knife, which is not illegal on campus.
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