4 protesters arrested, accused of helping to topple Durham Confederate statue

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DURHAM, N.C. - Authorities arrested a woman who they said helped to pull down a nearly century-old Confederate statue Monday in Durham.

Investigators said that Takiya Thompson admitted to climbing and helping to bring down the statue. She was taken into custody after a press conference on North Carolina Central University's campus.  

She is charged with disorderly conduct by injury to a statue, damage to real property, participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot where there is property damage in excess of $1,500.

Dante Strobino and Ngoc Loan Tran were also arrested. They are charged for participating in a riot that damaged property.

Authorities took Peter Gilbert into custody Wednesday afternoon.

Authorities are expected to arrest more people.

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews issued a statement Tuesday that investigators are using video footage to identify all of those responsible for toppling the statue. Law enforcement officers took video throughout the protest Monday in downtown Durham.

 

 

But they didn't intervene as demonstrators climbed a ladder, attached a rope and then pulled down the statue. The protest was in response to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

Andrews said he chose to exercise restraint. He said he met with county leaders and protest organizers beforehand and was aware of the potential for vandalism.

County officials didn't immediately respond to messages asking whether the statue would be put back up.

Protesters topple Durham Confederate statue which stood since 1924

(WTVD) Protesters in Durham rushed and toppled a Confederate statue outside the courthouse on Monday evening.

The monument of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle was erected in 1924 and inscribed on it are the words "in memory of the boys who wore the gray."

Later Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper tweeted reaction, saying, "the racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments."

 

 

The crowd was small in numbers but steadily grew to more than 100.

As the crowd became more animated, several protesters approached the monument, climbing it and attaching a yellow nylon rope around it. The protesters then pulled until the soldier came crashing to the ground.

Seconds after the monument fell, protesters began kicking the crumpled bronze monument.



"I was a little bit shocked people could come here and come together like that," said Isaiah Wallace.

Wallace said he watched as others toppled the statue. He hopes other Confederate symbols elsewhere will follow.

"I feel like this is going to send shock waves through the country and hopefully they can bring down other racist symbols," he said.



The Durham protest was in response to a white nationalist rally held in Charlottesville, Virginia during the weekend.

"I'm not surprised seeing what's gone on in this country," Durham Mayor Bill Bell said Monday night.

Because the statue was on county property, Bell would not comment on any possible charges against the protesters for the vandalism.

Shortly after 9:30 p.m., Durham Police issued a response to the protests.

"The DPD is aware that a Confederate monument was toppled at the old Durham County courthouse. Because this incident occurred on county property, where county law enforcement officials were staffed, no arrests were made by DPD officers," the department said in a statement.

Police said the Durham County Sheriff's Office is the agency that has jurisdiction over all county buildings and landmarks.



"When monitoring such incidents, the Sheriff's Office is the decision-making agency regarding law enforcement response on matters concerning county property," DPD explained.

Shortly before 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Durham County issued a statement that didn't specifically mention Monday's statue incident:

"Our elected officials and senior staff understand the unrest in our nation and community, particularly following the senseless acts that took place in Charlottesville, VA. We share the sentiments of many communities around the nation that admonish hate and acts of violence as we believe civility is necessary in our every action and response. Governmental agencies dedicated to public safety will continue to work collectively to ensure Durham remains a community of excellence where all of our residents can live peacefully, grow and thrive."

Protesters then moved on to walk down to Roxboro Street at Main Street, where the blocked the intersection.

The protesters later marched to the site of the new Durham Police headquarters, which is under construction.

Durham Police remained close by but kept their distance from the protesters.

Deadly Virginia rally accelerates removal of Confederate statues

In Gainesville, Florida, workers hired by the Daughters of the Confederacy chipped away at a Confederate soldier's statue, loaded it quietly on a truck and drove away with little fanfare.

In Baltimore, Mayor Catherine Pugh said she's ready to tear down all of her city's Confederate statues, and the city council voted to have them destroyed. San Antonio lawmakers are looking ahead to removing a statue that many people wrongly assumed represented a famed Texas leader who died at the Alamo.

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The deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, is fueling another re-evaluation of Confederate statues in cities across the nation, accelerating their removal in much the same way that a 2015 mass shooting by a white supremacist renewed pressure to take down the Confederate flag from public property.


(Confederate monument protests in Washington, DC)

"We should not glorify a part of our history in front of our buildings that really is a testament to America's original sin," Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said Monday after the statue known as "Old Joe" was returned to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which erected it in 1904.

A county spokesman said he did not know if the statue was removed because of the events that killed one person and injured dozens more Saturday in Charlottesville. But many officials who were horrified by the confrontation soon began publicizing plans to take down statues.

The Southern Poverty Law Center last year counted more than 1,500 things around the country named after Confederate figures or dedicated to the Confederacy, including holidays, statues, flags and the names of cities, counties, schools and parks. Nearly half are monuments, which are in 24 states. Most of the dedications are in the South, but 24 are in the North and 21 in states that did not exist at the time of the Civil War.

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In Jacksonville, Florida, City Council President Anna Brosche ordered an immediate inventory of all of the Confederate statues in her city in preparation for their removal.

"These monuments, memorials and markers represent a time in our history that caused pain to so many," she said Monday.

Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray moved up his announcement by a day in reaction to the weekend bloodshed. Memorials to John C. Breckinridge and John Hunt Morgan are perched outside a former courthouse that was the site of slave auctions before the Civil War.

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(Confederate statue in Louisville, Kentucky vandalized)

San Antonio Councilman Roberto Trevino is promoting a measure that would remove the Confederate statue at the center of Travis Park, where for years people have mistakenly identified the figure as being that of Col. William Travis, a Texas hero who died at the Alamo.

"This is not an important art piece, but a monument to power. It was put in to remind people of that power. It is an unfortunate message of hate, and we think it's important to relocate it." Trevino said Monday. "We do think that history is important so we're looking for an appropriate location for it."

St. Louis dismantled its Confederate Monument in Forest Park in June, giving it to the Missouri Civil War Museum after years of debate.

In Memphis, Tennessee, city attorney Bruce McMullen said Monday that he plans to file a petition to remove a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate cavalry general and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, from a park. The Memphis City Council voted in 2015 to relocate the statue, but the state historical commission blocked the move under the Heritage Protection Act, which makes any push to remove historical markers harder.

In Nashville, protesters draped a black jacket over the head of a Forrest bust at the Tennessee Capitol while cheering, "Tear it down!" Republican Gov. Bill Haslam later said he didn't think Forrest should be honored at the Capitol.


(Troopers stand guard at the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest)

In Baltimore, Pugh announced Monday that she would move forward with the removal of Baltimore's statues of Roger B. Taney, a Marylander who wrote the 1856 Dred Scott Supreme Court ruling that denied citizenship to African-Americans, and a statue of two Virginians, Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Pugh said she was making plans to send the statues to cemeteries with Confederate dead outside the city. But hours later, the city council voted unanimously to have the statues destroyed instead of moved. It was unclear whether anything would happen to the statues immediately.

Back in May, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu moved his city's four main Confederate statues, including a statue of Lee, at night after threats of violence from Confederate sympathizers and white supremacists. Pugh said she is consulting with Landrieu, now head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, about the removal of Baltimore's statues and the cost.

The violence in Charlottesville probably will speed up efforts to do away with the monuments, experts said.

The convergence of white nationalists and neo-Nazis with Confederate imagery in Charlottesville will make it difficult for government agencies to defend having Confederate statues on their property, Boston University history professor Heather Cox Richardson said.

"The idea that this somehow is about Southern heritage, I think that ship sailed," said Richardson, who teaches and writes about the Civil War, Reconstruction and Southern politics.

Violence and death change things, agreed University of Georgia political science professor M.V. "Trey" Hood III.

Photos of gunman Dylan Roof, who fatally shot nine black churchgoers in South Carolina, showed him with a Confederate flag and triggered a swift "sea change" in perception of the banner, Hood said.

Then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley successfully led calls to bring down a Confederate flag that had flown on Statehouse grounds for 54 years. Other cities and organizations began accelerating their removal of Confederate imagery following Roof's arrest.

Now local officials will find it harder to ignore or shelve questions about Confederate statues, Richardson said.

"It was always possible for people to look the other way," she said. "After Charlottesville, I do not see how Americans can look the other way. You have to make a choice at this moment."

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