DA: Felony charges against 7 accused of tearing down Durham Confederate statue remain

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017
DA: Felony charges against 7 accused of tearing down Durham Confederate statue remain
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DA: Felony charges against 7 accused of tearing down Durham Confederate statue remain

DURHAM (WTVD) -- District Attorney Roger Echols says felony charges will remain against the seven defendants accused of tearing down a Confederate statue in Durham at a protest earlier this year, despite what the defendants' attorney said in court Tuesday.

Echols said he wouldn't comment on any discussions with defense attorney Scott Holmes, after Holmes referenced Echols when he said in open court; "We have agreed not to proceed on the felony charges."

Echols would not confirm that, and is not commenting on any discussions he had with Holmes.

The seven are charged with riot and inciting to riot after protesters used a ladder to climb up on the statue in August and then tied a rope around it. Other protestors then pulled it down.

The monument of a Confederate soldier holding a rifle was erected in 1924 and inscribed on it are the words "in memory of the boys who wore the gray."

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Protesters storm and tear down the Confederate monument.
Jonah Kaplan

They gathered outside on the county courthouse steps after Tuesday's hearing, still defiant.

"It is not a crime to remove the relics of a system that is oppressive and unjust," defendant Taylor Cook said. "It is a crime to protect those statues."

Their supporters insist their actions that day were anti-racist, and justified.

"When our courthouse used to be over there, people had to walk past it daily for justice," Tia Wilson Hall said. "I don't think that meant justice for our community."

While not everyone agrees with that opinion, the group said they believe ultimately, public opinion will back their claim they stood, and acted, on behalf of Bull City citizens.

"Thanks, Durham, for determining which side of history you want to stand on," Hall said.

Last month, the charges brought against three other people accused in the incident were also dropped. Officials said the two felony and three misdemeanor charges against Zan Caldwell, Taylor Cook, and Myles Spignor were dismissed by the prosecutor.


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