A North Carolina district attorney has reportedly dropped charges against the remaining protesters accused of destroying a Confederate monument in downtown Durham last year. The defendants included Takiyah Thompson, the North Carolina Central University student who was the first to be charged in August, despite not having acted alone.
Also among the remaining defendants were Elena Everett, Jessica Nicole Jude, Qasima Wideman, and Joseph Karlik. They were charged with three misdemeanors: injury to real property, defacing a public building or monument, and conspiracy to deface a public building or monument. Their trials were scheduled for April 2, but the evidence presented by prosecutors was reportedly not adequate enough to prove the defendants were guilty.
“For my office to continue to take these cases to trial based on the same evidence would be a misuse of state resources,” District Attorney Roger Echols told press. But he still stands by his initial decision to issue charges, saying that “acts of vandalism, regardless of noble intent, are still a violation of law.”
“Anything that emboldens those people and anything that gives those people pride, needs to be crushed in the same way that they want to crush Black people and the other groups that they target,” Thompson told Democracy Now! in August. The president, however, had other feelings, saying the protesters were ripping apart the “history and culture of our great country.”
Outrage was stirred upon Thompson’s arrest.
“The group pulled the statue down, and she’s the one who got arrested,” Yaba Blay—Dan Blue Endowed Chair in Political Science at North Carolina Central University and one of Thompson’s professors—told CASSIUS shortly after Thompson’s arrest. “It’s interesting that the Black woman becomes the face. Here’s this student who’s now charged with felonies. How much does a statue cost?”
Going forward, Defense Attorney Scott Holmes hopes to see the base of the defaced monument removed entirely, citing the constitution’s legal basis to remove all Confederate monuments outside of North Carolina courthouses.
Per a statement shared by The Herald Sun, Sheriff Mike Andrews says the Sheriff’s Office applied the law for the removal and damage of public property. “It’s up to the court system to decide what happens next, he said. “The Sheriff’s Office is going to continue doing its job by serving and protecting our community and upholding the law.”