DA drops charges against remaining Confederate statue protesters
A district attorney in North Carolina on Tuesday announced that the remainder of the charges his office filed against protesters who took down a Confederate monument in Durham would be dropped, following the acquittal of one defendant Monday.
Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols said he will drop charges against the five remaining protesters. The protesters were charged with injury to real property, defacing a public building or monument and conspiracy to deface a public building or monument, The Herald-Sun reports.
Echols’s decision follows a judge acquitting one defendant of similar charges Monday while dismissing charges against two others.
“For my office to continue to take these cases to trial based on the same evidence would be a misuse of state resources,” Echols told reporters. But he warned that violence, even with “noble” intent, would be punished.
“Acts of vandalism, regardless of noble intent, are still a violation of law,” he said.
The charges stemmed from an incident captured on video last year in which dozens of protesters toppled a Confederate statue in the city while chanting “No KKK! No fascist USA!”
Echols initially charged 12 people with felony and misdemeanor charges related to the destruction of the statue, but later dropped the felony charges as well as all other charges against three others.
One protester, Loan Tran, accepted deferred prosecution on three misdemeanors in December and promised to pay $1,250 in restitution and perform 100 hours of community service.
Tran told news reporters at the time of the incident that other Confederate statues around the country needed to be removed following violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year.
“It needs to be removed,” Tran said in August. “These Confederate statues in Durham, in North Carolina, all across the country.”
President Trump was heavily criticized last year after he said that there were “good people” on “many sides” in Charlottesville.
A car was driven into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, killing one woman, Heather Heyer.