Deputies arrest protester who helped pull down Durham Confederate statue

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Durham deputies arrest protester
Takiyah Thompson is led away by deputies. She admitted to climbing the ladder to help topple the Confederate statue.

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Durham County sheriff's deputies arrested a woman who said she took part in toppling the Confederate statue in downtown Durham. More arrests are expected.

The latest:

* At least one protester has been arrested
* Durham Sheriff says more arrests are likely
* Sheriff will charge protesters to "full extent of the law"

Takiyah Thompson, 22, was taken into custody shortly after protesters held a news conference Tuesday afternoon at North Carolina Central University. Thompson climbed a ladder to the top of the statue to tie a rope around its neck before the crowd tore it down

WATCH: Deputies arrest Thompson

Raw Video: Durham County deputies arrest protester who helped topple Confederate statue.

Thompson is charged with:

  • disorderly conduct by injury to a statue (Class II Misdemeanor)
  • damage to real property (statue as a fixture (Class I Misdemeanor)
  • participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 (Class H Felony)
  • inciting others to riot where there is property damage in excess of $1,500 (Class F Felony)

The protesters who took part in toppling Confederate statue in Durham on Monday held the news conference Tuesday to call for the dropping of any charges related to the incident.

Takiyah Fatima Thompson
Durham County Sheriff's Office

Thompson was given a $10,000 unsecured bond. She bonded out at 5:48 p.m. The World Worker's Party Durham chapter has set up a legal defense fund to help fight her case in court.

Deputies said Tuesday night that investigators continue to search for other suspects in the removal of the statue.

"The people decided to take matters into our own hands and remove the statue," said Thompson, a member of the Communist-platform Workers World Party and a student at N.C. Central University. "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."

On Tuesday evening, ABC11 spoke by phone with WWP activist Lamont Lilly. Lilly signaled the fight about what the group said it believes are monuments to racism is not over.

When asked, will the protests continue, will more statues be torn down, Lilly responded, "I hope so."

The protesters called for the Durham County Commissioners, the Durham Sheriff's office and District Attorney's office to drop the charges on all protesters involved with the Durham incident and also called on the City of Charlottesville to drop charges against anti-racist protesters from August 12.

Takiyah Thompson was taken into custody after protesters held a news conference at NCCU.

Durham County officials called for a "respectful and productive" dialogue on race issues Tuesday following the destruction of a Confederate monument outside the old courthouse in downtown Durham.

On Tuesday, Durham city council member Jillian Johnson responded to Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews' call for city and county leaders to help create guidelines for peaceful demonstrations.

"I'm unlikely to support any city or county regulations that restrict the rights of free speech and free assembly for demonstrators," Johnson said.

At a news conference, Durham County manager Wendell Davis called pulling the statue down "unlawful and inappropriate."

Durham County manager Wendell Davis speaks

As the state has a law mandating the protection of Confederate monuments, Davis said county officials will be consulting with state officials about what to do with the heavily damaged monument.

The statue was pulled down by a group of demonstrators Monday evening. A woman climbed a ladder and put a nylon rope around it while others pulled.

Thompson, in an interview with ABC11 on Tuesday, admitted her involvement.

"I feel like it's important to tear down these vestiges of white supremacy," Thompson.

Woman explains why she helped pull down the statue

Congressman GK Butterfield said though he didn't condone the actions of the protesters, but understood their motives.

"I don't condone the destruction of government property, but I understand the hurt and pain the continued existence of Confederate monuments cause to many in our communities, whether it is on the grounds of the US Capitol, state capitals, or any other locations," Butterfield said.

Also at Tuesday's news conference, Andrews addressed criticism that his officers did not intervene as the statue was pulled down. He said using pepper spray was considered, but leaders decided on restraint to avoid injuries and further chaos.

"Don't mistake restraint for inaction. If I had my deputies to engage a hostile crowd, there would have been injuries," he said.

Sheriff Andrews speaks about statue protest

He also said people seen in the video will be arrested.

"Last night we witnessed a blatant violation of the law. No one is getting away with damaging the Confederate statue. We will pursue felony charges," he said.


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."

Raw video as protesters pull down the statue in Durham.

The statue is one of dozens across North Carolina and one of about 1,500 public displays across the country dedicated to the Confederacy.