The evidence in front of them
The headline this week reports that the Durham district attorney, Roger Echols, has decided to drop the remaining charges against the Confederate statute demonstrators. These out-of-control rioters were certainly dangerous to others as well as destroying property not their own. How a judge could say after reviewing the videos that the demonstrators “did not injure real property or deface a public building or monument” means he probably needs glasses.
The facts are these: These students, or instigators, with all the hate that they could summon, (Talk about hate! Did you see the young man spitting on the statue?) tore down a statue, used ropes and anything they had on hand to destroy and mutilate the statue, and incited others to riot. How is any part of this within the law?
I think that if the judge and DA cannot see the evidence that’s in front of them and fulfill their roles as adjudicators, perhaps they should not be re-elected.
While District Court Judge Fred Battaglia’s decision in the Confederate memorial case is correct because District Attorney Roger Echols and his staff couldn’t provide definite identification of the person or persons who pulled down the statue, it nonetheless is alarming.
We’re supposed to be living in a nation of laws, yet those who organized and participated in the protest (which was a natural reaction to President Trump’s unfortunate position on the actions of pro Nazi and white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia) reacted like anarchists.
Destroying the statue demonstrates no respect for others’ property or law and order. In this case the end does not justify the means. All of us have the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and the guarantee of lawful assembly. The key word is lawful. Destroying a monument commemorating a controversial past in American’s history – a past brought about by the importation of slaves by English settlers to work on large plantations – show immaturity by persons who are supposed to be adults. Unfortunately those who actually caused the damage won’t be punished as they should in a civil society.
The most appropriate place to demonstrate anger and outrage over Charlottesville is the ballot box. I hope those who spearheaded last summer’s demonstrations are registered to vote. As one of many election officials in Durham I look forward to helping them during May’s primary and November’s general election.
We are to blame
On Feb. 14, the most predictable event occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School: an active shooter murdered 17 students, and we are to blame.
When a teenager is left orphaned three months prior, and offered no psychological services, we are to blame.
When a teenager posts on social media about murdering students, about becoming a school shooter, about killing animals (a warning sign of antisocial behavior), and these posts are flagged by the FBI and noticed by those around him, and no one speaks up, we are responsible.
When a teenager who was expelled from school for behavioral issues, who has a history of socio-emotional trouble and flagged social media posts legally purchases an AR-15, and is allowed to keep it by his own family, we are the problem.
When we say “we didn’t see this coming” or “I wish we could do more” or “we need to talk about guns,” we are in trouble. Because at the end of the day, this person incidentally warned us for months about what he was capable of and willing to do, and both responsible adults and the federal government alike chose to turn their attention away. When we live in a world where we glorify shows like “13 Reasons Why,” because it teaches us to pay more attention to people’s red flags and mental health, and we continue to ignore them, we are the problem.
Nikolas Cruz killed 17 students, and so did we.
Alexandra Sánchez Rolón
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