WRAL reports North Carolina Central University student Takiyah Fatima Thompson, 22, was arrested Tuesday (Aug. 15) and charged with riot with property damage in excess of $1,500, inciting others to riot where property damage exceeds $1,500, damage to real property and disorderly conduct by injury to a statue. The protest began peacefully as a response to the white supremacy rally in Charlottesville over the weekend. Thompson, with a group of supporters, took down the Confederate Soldiers Monument by climbing on the statue and wrapping a strap around its neck. Fellow protesters on the ground then pulled it down.
— Adam Owens (@AdamOwensTV) August 15, 2017
Thompson, who was arrested as she spoke to the media the next day, explained why the nearly century old statue needed to be removed. “I’m tired of white supremacy keeping its foot on my neck and the necks of people who look like me,” she said. “That statue glorifies the conditions that oppressed people live in, and it had to go.”
A damaged nearly century-old Confederate statue lies in a Durham, NC warehouse as investigators work to identify protesters who toppled it. pic.twitter.com/xBEXYkQkVj
— AP Images (@AP_Images) August 15, 2017
Durham police explained their reluctancy to arrest Thompson on Monday, citing public safety concerns in the light of the violence in Charlottesville.
“Don’t mistake restraint for inaction,” Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said. “Had I ordered my deputies to engage a hostile crowd, there would have been serious injuries. Statues can be replaced; lives cannot.” He also added more arrests would follow. “Let me be clear, no one is getting away with what happened. We will find the people responsible,” he added. “We can all agree yesterday went too far. Yesterday was not the Durham that I know.”
Thompson is a member of the Durham chapter of the Workers World Party, a group defined as a supporter to struggles of all oppressed peoples. Thompson has been hailed a hero to fellow North Carolina natives who aren’t fans of images of the Confederacy.
Thompson is currently being held on a $10,000 bond and will appear in court Wednesday (Aug. 23.) Social activists have called on Lady Gaga to help with legal fees after asking how she can assist in the movement via social media.
Durham wasn’t the only place Confederate images were removed. In the early hours of Wednesday (Aug. 16), four statues attributed to the Confederate army were removed from their platforms. The New York Times reports Mayor Catherine Pugh ordered the removal after the City Council voted on the action Monday.
The statues included a Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson Monument, the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, a Roger B. Taney Monument and a statue dedicated to the Confederate Women of Maryland.
And there they go. Lee and Jackson sailing through air onto flatbed truck in Baltimore at 3:40 AM. An amazing sight. pic.twitter.com/4SzRYRiVOB
— Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) August 16, 2017
It’s currently unknown where the statues will go.