The debate over whether or not to remove Confederate statues and monuments is brewing in cities across America; not so for protesters in Durham, North Carolina on Monday. While others discuss the best options for removal, activists took the matter into their own hands. CNN reports charges will be brought against activists who tore down a Confederate statue. The news follows a statement released by Mike Andrews, the sheriff of Durham County.
As of Tuesday afternoon, specific charges have yet to be announced.
According to CNN, anti-racism and anti-fascist activists toppled the Confederate soldier statue next to the old Durham County courthouse to show solidarity with anti-racist activists in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Videos have since surfaced that show the group of protestors in the act of tearing down the statue. In them, a protester can be seen climbing the statue and tying a yellow rope around it to chants of “We are the revolution.”
The statue was then pulled down to chants of “No KKK, No Fascist USA.” After the statue fell to the ground, some protesters kicked, spat on, and “otherwise generally [defaced] the monument,” Rolling Stone comments.
The statue in question was put up in 1924, dedicated to “The Confederate States of America,” as its seal displayed. Underneath its dedication, the epitaph read “In memory of the boys who wore gray,” a nod to the color of the Confederate soldiers’ uniforms.
ABC News reported the activists may be charged with vandalism in the destruction of the monument. Protestors were not arrested at the scene, according to the NY Times, because it occurred on county property. Members of the sheriff’s office did film the event, however, and arrests could be made once perpetrators are identified.
As of today, at least one woman has been arrested in connection with the dismantling of the statue. The sheriff’s office reported the 22-year-old was arrested and charged with two felonies, “participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot,” as well as two misdemeanors.
In a statement released today, Andrews said, “I am grateful the events that unfolded Monday evening did not result in serious injury or loss of life, but the planned demonstration should serve as a sobering example of the price we all pay when civil disobedience is no longer civil.”
Since the devastating events in Charlottesville, activists across the United States have been organizing demonstrations through public Facebook events in counter protest to the violent white supremacist rally.
Although many might not condemn the actions of the protestors outright, the event begs the question of what other cities are intending to do in relation to their own Confederate monuments.
On the same day, the statue was pulled down in Durham, another Confederate statue was quietly taken down just a few states away in Gainesville, Florida. That statue, called “Old Joe,” stood outside the Alachua County Administration Building since 1909. It depicted a Confederate soldier standing with a gun in his hands. The county had been debating the statue’s removal for two years, and the Alachua County Board of Commissioners finally made the decision to move forward with its removal back in May of this year. The United Daughters of the Confederacy agreed to pay workers to remove the statue from its original site and relocate it to a different resting place.
“We should not glorify a part of our history in front of our buildings that really is a testament to America’s original sin,” were the words Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe had to share in regards to the removal of “Old Joe” as reported by The Mercury News.
Not far away from Gainesville, in Jacksonville, Florida, the city council ordered an immediate inventory made of all the city’s Confederate monuments to prepare for their removal.
City Council President Anna Brosche commented on Monday, “These monuments, memorials and markers represent a time in our history that caused pain to so many.”
Mayor and city council members in cities like Lexington, Kentucky; Baltimore, Maryland; and, San Antonio, Texas made similar announcements regarding the removal of their own Confederate monuments. Just a few months ago, St. Louis, Missouri and New Orleans, Louisiana also dismantled notable city monuments dedicated to the Confederacy.
“This is not an important art piece, but a monument to power. It was put in to remind people of that power. It is an unfortunate message of hate, and we think it’s important to relocate it,” San Antonio Councilman Robert Trevino said on Monday regarding plans to remove a Confederate statue at the center of San Antonio’s Travis Park. “We do think that history is important so we’re looking for an appropriate location for it.”
The events that unfolded over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia were terrible, and yet they have prompted an important discussion about American history. After Charlottesville, it is no longer possible for Americans to pass by such monuments and look the other way. I’m certain that other cities will come forward with plans to remove their own monuments to a more appropriate setting. May I suggest, a museum?