DA: Felony charges in Durham Confederate statue destruction to remain


DURHAM, N.C. (WNNC) — The Durham district attorney said felony charges will remain against seven protesters charged with tearing down a Confederate monument in downtown Durham on Aug. 14.

Following court appearances early Tuesday, it was reported all felony charges would be dropped but District Attorney Roger Echols said that was not the case.

Attorney Scott Holmes, representing seven people charged in the case, requested the felony charges be dropped in court Tuesday.

The judge granted a motion to continue the cases to Dec. 5.

Charges had already been dropped against three of the 12 people arrested. Aaron Caldwell, Myles Spigner and Taylor Cook had charges dropped against them last week, Durham County’s District Attorney Roger Echols told CBS North Carolina.

Echols said that “we filed voluntary dismissals for three of the individuals charged” and that there “are related cases pending against 10 others.” Echols said there was no evidence that Caldwell, Spigner and Cook “physically participated in taking the statue down.”

The arrests and charges all stem from the incident that occurred around 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 14 when a woman using a ladder climbed the statue of a Confederate soldier outside the old Durham County courthouse and attached a rope around the statue.

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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.

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.

On Tuesday, those arrested responded to the charges outside of court, demanding that they all be dropped because they don’t feel they did anything wrong.

Those facing charges also said they are looking into local officials.

“We will investigate those in power from the sheriff’s department to the General Assembly for crimes against the people and for enshrining, upholding, and protecting symbols in the systems that perpetuate white supremacy,” said Takiyah Thompson, one of the 12 arrested protesters.

The protesters then symbolically charged local officials.

“We charge obstruction of justice and conspiracy, we charge negligent homicide, we charge racism and oppression,” Thompson said. “We will not stop until we have justice.”

The three remaining people charged who didn’t appear in court today also have Dec. 5 court dates.

The Defend Durham group is holding a press conference today to demand that all charges be dropped. The group also plans to announce an independent investigation into the State of North Carolina for obstruction of justice.

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