It was a satisfying thing to behold last night when protesters in North Carolina tugged down a Confederate monument outside the former Durham County courthouse, which slid easily off its base and promptly crumpled at its weak little neck. Today, police have begun arresting the protesters responsible, and they are not sorry.
Taqiyah Thompson, 22, who climbed a ladder and secured a rope around the statue, was arrested just before 5 p.m. following a press conference at North Carolina Central University, where she summed up her actions:
“I did the right thing. Everyone who was there—the people did the right thing. The people will continue to keep making the right choices until every Confederate statue is gone, until white supremacy is gone. That statue is where it belongs. It needs to be in the garbage.”
Thompson has been charged with two felonies—participation in a riot with property damage over $1,500, and inciting others to riot where there is property damage over $1,500. On top of that are two misdemeanors: Disorderly conduct by injury to a statue and damage to property.
“The people decided to take matters into our own hands and remove the statue,” said Thompson.“We are tired of waiting on politicians who could have voted to remove the white supremacist statues years ago, but they failed to act. So we acted.”
At the press conference, speakers called for amnesty for all involved in the statue’s removal, and for the sheriff’s office and district attorney to drop charges. They also criticized Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who in a statement on Monday said that simply pulling down statues was the wrong course of action.
In a Medium post published Tuesday, Cooper called for the North Carolina legislature to repeal a law that prevents removal or relocation of monuments. He also said he asked the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to “determine the cost and logistics” of removing Confederate monuments from state property, as well as alternatives for the placement.
Meanwhile, Durham County Sheriff Michael Andrews said additional warrants were being executed.
“No one is getting away with this,” he said, adding during a news conference that,
“As the sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct. With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue.”
The now damaged statue—a Confederate soldier holding a rifle—was erected in 1924. It’s inscribed with the words “in memory of the boys who wore gray.” It remains to be seen where the monument and its broken torso will go next.