Charges Dropped for Durham Confederate Statue vandals

by Fred Ray on February 24, 2018 · 4 comments

The Durham DA has dropped all charges for the remaining vandals who pulled down a Confederate statue.

District Attorney Roger Echols did not take questions after a terse statement in which he essentially said it did not make sense to pursue charges against the remaining suspects given that District Court Judge Frederick S. Battaglia Jr. on Monday found one suspect not guilty and dismissed charges against two others.

“I do believe the evidence supported the misdemeanor charges, and we proceeded on those charges,” Echols said. “Acts of vandalism, regardless of noble intent, are still violations of law.”

But Echols added that it would not be productive to pursue charges against the remaining five defendants given that prosecutors’ evidence for them was similar to that presented during Monday’s trials. The remaining defendants had been scheduled to return to court in April for their day in court.

“For my office to continue to take these cases to trial based on the same evidence would be a misuse of state resources,” Echols said. “For that reason, I will dismiss the remaining charges against the remaining defendants.”

On Monday, Battaglia dismissed charges against Dante Emmanuel Strobino, 35, and Peter Hull Gilbert, 39, saying prosecutors had not proven that they were among those involved in knocking the statue over. Another defendant, Raul Jimenez, was acquitted after a trial that lasted several hours and stretched into the evening.

Not unexpected but surprising, especially given that the woman who climbed the statue, Takiyah Thompson, was readily identifiable and has admitted it. Unfortunately, this leads to a culture of impunity and will simply encourage more vandalism. The statue was not of some Confederate dignitary but of an anonymous Confederate soldier.

UPDATE: Speaking of statues, California seems to be the leader these days in removals.

In Arcata the statue of William McKinley is coming down, along with a plaque referring to “Indian troubles.”

The 8 1/2-foot monument and a nearby plaque have long been a point of contention among Arcata residents, some of whom say McKinley’s expansionist policies were racist toward indigenous people. During his presidential tenure at the turn of the 20th century, McKinley annexed tribal lands in the western U.S. and Hawaii in the name of Manifest Destiny.

Not to be outdone, San Jose is removing a statue of Christopher Columbus, and San Francisco is removing an “offensive” statue featuring a subjugated Indian.

UPDATE: Just as a reminder, William McKinley served in the Civil War in an Ohio regiment, the last president to have done so. He enlisted as a private in 1861 and left the army as a brevet major. So he fought to preserve the Union and abolish slavery, but that apparently does not matter if you’re seen as an imperialist.

UPDATE: Then they came for Dobby the Gorilla.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

John Horn February 24, 2018 at 11:57 pm

What was the evidence?

Reply

reaandrewredd February 25, 2018 at 8:12 am

The video of the event with easily identifiable faces on it. It still may be on YouTube.

Reply

Sam Hood February 25, 2018 at 5:36 am

The female perp admitted it and she was found not guilty?

Reply

Richard Williams March 1, 2018 at 11:50 am

This is not at all surprising, given the political climate and the fact that certain historians are giving these kinds of acts “cover” in the name of “social justice.” Dereliction of duty in my opinion.

Reply

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