How the Activists Who Tore Down Durham's Confederate Statue Got Away With It

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tags: North Carolina, Confederate Monuments

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“Let me be clear, no one is getting away with what happened.”

That was Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews’s warning on August 15, 2017. The day before, a protest had formed on the lawn outside the county offices in an old courthouse. In more or less broad daylight, some demonstrators had leaned a ladder against the plinth, reading, “In memory of the boys who wore the gray,” and looped a strap around it. Then the crowd pulled down the statue, and it crumpled cheaply on the grass. It was a brazen act, witnessed by dozens of people, some of them filming on cell phones.

Andrews was wrong. On Tuesday, a day after a judge dismissed charges against two defendants and acquitted a third, Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols announced the state was in effect surrendering, dismissing charges against six other defendants....

As a legal matter, these dismissals reflect the specifics of this case, especially the shockingly weak case brought by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and the DA’s office. As a political matter, their effect could be wider. Actors on all sides portrayed the Durham case as an important one. Activists viewed the destruction of the statue as a blow against white supremacy and the hundreds of monuments that dot the country, paying tribute to a rebellion that sought to preserve the enslavement of African Americans. Their opponents—including President Trump—argued that the monuments represented a piece of history, and warned that allowing such destruction would sanction anarchy. The failure of the attempt to prosecute the guerrilla action in Durham shows how activists maintaining a united front can stare down a government divided over the proper approach to the controversial matter of Confederate monuments—and it may offer encouragement to activists elsewhere in the country, including in places where government cannot or will not act, to take monument removal into their own hands....

Read entire article at The Atlantic

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