Protesters pull down Confederate statue at old Durham County courthouse

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A crowd of protesters gathered outside the old Durham County courthouse on Main Street Monday evening in opposition to a Confederate monument in front of the government building.

UPDATE: Durham Sheriff’s Office working to ID protesters who tore down Confederate statue

CLICK TO VIEW 14 LARGER PHOTOS OF THE TOPPLING

Around 7:10 p.m. a woman using a ladder climbed the statue of a Confederate soldier and attached a rope around the statue.

Moments later, the crowd pulled on the rope and the statue fell.  One man quickly ran up and spat on the statue and several others began kicking it.

Durham police later said they monitored the protests to make sure they were “safe,” but did not interfere with the statue toppling because it happened on county property.

RELATED: POLL: Should Confederate symbols such as monuments and flags be removed or preserved?

“Because this incident occurred on county property, where county law enforcement officials were staffed, no arrests were made by DPD officers,” Durham Police spokesman Wil Glenn wrote in an email statement.

Durham County Sheriff’s deputies videotaped the statue being brought down — but didn’t stop it from happening.

After toppling the statue, the protesters started marching. They blocked traffic with authorities trying to stay ahead of them. The protesters made their way down E. Main Street to the site of the new Durham Police Department.

In 1924, the Confederate statue was dedicated to Durham.

Engraved on the front of the monument is “The Confederate States of America.”

Above it, was the statue representing a soldier who fought in the civil war.

“Today we got a small taste of justice,” protester Jose Ramos said after the statue was down.

Later Monday night, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tweeted regarding what happened in Durham:

Durham County officials also issued a statement regarding the toppling of the statue:

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.

After the Durham statue fell, several dozen protesters congregated on the street in front of the old courthouse. Some took pictures standing or sitting on the toppled soldier, in front of a pedestal inscribed with the words “In Memory of the Boys Who Wore The Gray.”

“It needs to be removed,” Loan Tran, an organizer, said earlier Monday. “These Confederate statues in Durham, in North Carolina, all across the country.”

There are similar monuments in several cities around North Carolina.

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Tran doesn’t want to see it anymore.

“When I see a Confederate statue in downtown Durham, or really anywhere, it fills me with a lot of rage and frustration,” she said.

Organizers say Monday’s protest was a reaction to the events in Charlottesville this past weekend.

“People can be mobilized and people are angry and when enough people are angry, we don’t have to look to politicians to sit around in air conditions and do nothing when we can do things ourselves,” said Takiyah Thompson, a protester.

In an email to CBS North Carolina, Durham County spokeswoman Dawn Dudley said:

“Due to a North Carolina state law passed a few years ago, Durham County is prohibited from removing or making substantive alteration to historical monuments and memorials. I share this to say that there is a statute in place making the efforts you mention below difficult to move forward. I would assume that the only thing possible are steps to reverse the law.”

This statue had been the center of controversy before after graffiti was spray painted on it a few years ago.

The group that met Monday said their purpose was to “smash white supremacy.”

On Tuesday morning, crews came to clean to clean up the toppled statue. After the statue was picked up, a man came over and placed a small Confederate flag at the base of the remaining statue.

The flag was picked up by someone a few minutes later and torn up. It was then thrown in the garbage.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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