One deal announced, others charged with statue toppling ready for trial
One protester agreed to deferred prosecution, while another who helped take down a Confederate statue in downtown Durham last summer vowed Tuesday to take her case to trial.
It was another day in court for nine people still facing charges in the Aug. 14 incident, which followed a deadly rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. The District Attorney’s Office previously dismissed charges against three others charged in the Durham incident.
Loan Tran accepted deferred prosecution on three misdemeanor charges – injury to real property, damage to personal property and defacing a public monument – for helping to topple the statue. Tran also agreed to pay $1,250 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service. Tran will also pay $180 in court costs.
Tran declined to comment on the specifics of the deal or the reason behind accepting it.
“Smashing white supremacy is not a crime, and folks are going to continue to organize solidarity actions at the court as folks pursue trial,” Tran said.
The cases for the eight others were postponed until Jan.11. Defense attorney Scott Holmes had previously said that District Attorney Roger Echols has taken the felonies off the table for those charged. Holmes, an N.C. Central University law professor and supervising attorney of the school’s Civil Litigation Clinic, said he couldn’t comment on that and other future actions in the case on Tuesday morning.
At least one activist, Takiyah Thompson, an NCCU student who climbed a ladder and wrapped a moving strap around the statue that helped pull it down, said she would challenge her charges at a trial.
“I am not guilty of the charges that are being presented. We feel that all of the defendants are not guilty of the charges that are being presented, and we want to go to trial,” Thompson, 23, said. “Tearing down symbols of hate and white supremacy is not a crime.”
On Aug. 18, four days after the statue came down, hundreds of people gathered in Durham to confront a rumored white supremacist march, which never happened.
Two people charged with bringing a weapon to the counterprotest, Dwayne Dixon and Christopher Brazil, and a third person charged with wearing a mask at that event, Gregory Williams, had their cases postponed on Tuesday until Feb. 8.
After the hearing, Defend Durham, a loose organization of individuals and agencies supporting those charged, set up paper and markers, asking people to propose what should replace the Confederate statue that once stood before the old courthouse in Durham.
Folks have suggested a heart, tree, water fountain, a raised fist and other symbols of resistance, Tran said.
Defend Durham is also inviting members of the community to become witnesses in the trials.
“We want to hear stories from folks who have had to walk by that Confederate monument for years and years and years,” Tran said. “Who believe similarly to (what) we believe, that that statue doesn’t have a place in front of that old courthouse or in Durham at all.”