Durham DA will not pursue felony charges in Confederate monument toppling

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham District Attorney Roger Echols said his office will not pursue the felony charges against eight protesters who were charged with tearing down a Confederate monument in front of the old Durham County courthouse in August 2017.

CLICK TO VIEW 14 LARGER PHOTOS OF THE TOPPLING

Echols said he can not comment further since the cases are still pending but his office will still move forward with the misdemeanor charges.

A crowd of protesters gathered outside the old Durham County courthouse on Main Street on Aug. 14, 2017, in opposition to a Confederate monument in front of the government building.

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.

“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.

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In 1924, the Confederate statue was dedicated to Durham.

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

Charges had already been dropped against three of the 12 people arrested. Aaron Caldwell, Myles Spigner and Taylor Cook had charges dropped against them in November 2017, 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.”

Eight of the nine remaining protesters appeared in court on Dec. 5, 2017, and asked for their cases to be continued in 2018. The judge granted the request and pushed their next appearances until today.

One of those charged, Loan Tran, entered a plea deal at the December 2017 appearance where she made no admission of responsibility in the case and will not have probation. Tran will have to pay $1,250 in restitution and $180 in court fees.

Tran had felony charges that were instead dropped down to misdemeanor and those misdemeanors will be dropped, unless she doesn’t meet the court ordered plea she entered. She is to complete 100 hours of community service with Triangle Nonprofit & Volunteer Leadership Center. That community service must be completed by March 26, 2018.

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