Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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.
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 said in a 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 East 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: “The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments.”
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.
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 says:
“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 has been the center of controversy before after graffiti was spray painted on it a few years ago.
The group that met Monday say their purpose is to “smash white supremacy.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this report

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