Defend Durham: Topple Racism Week of Action (share widely)

Thursday: Pack the Courts

Saturday: People’s Tribunal

Durham County Courthouse (512 S Dillard St)

SAT 2-5pm: People’s Tribunal
City Well Church (2317 Chapel Hill Rd)

Eight anti-racist freedom fighters will head back to court on January 11, 2018, in Durham, each facing several felony and misdemeanor charges.

Their charges stem from their participation in the courageous peoples’ removal of a Confederate monument on August 14, a bold response to the ‘Unite the Right’ white supremacist rally held just two days earlier in Charlottesville, VA. Heather Heyer, an anti-fascist activist, was killed and many others were injured when a neo-Nazi plowed his car into the demonstration – in addition to those hurt in other physical attacks by these forces against the protests throughout the day.

They are issuing an urgent call for renewed solidarity and pressure on the Durham County District Attorney and political officials to say:

This is an embarrassment to Durham, Stop Prosecuting Anti-racist Heroes and Drop the Charges!January 11 will be a critical day in the struggle that has unfolded in the aftermath of the toppling of the statue.

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Requests have been pouring in to have Takiyah and other freedom fighters to come speak in communities across the country.  Unfortunately, most groups do not have the funds to cover the costs of travel – that’s why we are asking for YOUR HELP to make the “Topple Racism, Do it like Durham” Speaking Tour a reality.

Help us make our $10k goal to take our stories, our resilience, and our message on the road.


Here’s how you can join the national week of action Jan 8 – 14:


Saturday, Jan 13: People’s Tribunal

Durham community members, activists and their allies will hold a People’s Tribunal on Jan. 13, putting on trial those who enforce racial injustice.

The People’s Tribunal in part to challenges the charges against eight anti-racist activists for tearing down a white supremacist statue in August 2017. The defendants are scheduled to be in court again on Thursday, Jan. 11.

Activists in Durham toppled the Confederate statue in front of the old Durham courthouse on Aug. 14 as a righteous response to the murder of anti-racist Heather Heyer by a neo-Nazi in Charlottesville, Va. They asserted that the community would not tolerate white supremacy in any form, including the continued imposition of monuments to racism.

On Aug. 18, people came out in force to defend Durham from an announced Ku Klux Klan rally and march through the city. The KKK rally was canceled as word of the resistance spread. Two activists facing charges stemming from the counterprotest go to court in February.

The state has attempted to quell the national and international outpouring of support for these anti-racist freedom fighters, in part by delaying and separating the trial dates for the activist defendants. Community activists have organized and held mobilizations for every court date, now monthly since September.

Jan. 13 tribunal challenges the state

Seeing such blatant collusion of legal institutions with white supremacist violence, Durham organizers are taking matters into their own hands.

“The People’s Tribunal is really meant to pull together members of the Durham community, to bring charges against the sheriff, the police, the court systems and the various systems of racist oppression in the city,” said Takiyah Thompson, a Workers World party member and North Carolina Central University student who has helped organize the event.

“Fundamentally, we disagree with their laws,” said Thompson, one of the defendants. “The fact is that this bourgeois democratic society believes that the laws can only be enforced in one direction and not the other. It’s important to challenge that notion, as a gateway for more radical challenges to the state as a whole.”

Organizers hope that the People’s Tribunal will strike both an absurd and somber note. Replete with banners, a giant gavel, witnesses, experts and a judge, the event will have all the components of a mock trial, but the crimes it addresses are real.

The tribunal will welcome community members to share testimonies of their personal experiences with white supremacy in Durham, offer rebukes of its violent institutions and recommend sentences against those in power. Those who attend will collectively agree upon the verdicts.

“It’s a way for people to have a grievance process of their own and to give people an outlet to strengthen community,” Thompson said.

To help promote the tribunal and voice solidarity with the defendants, Durham activists encourage allies to participate in the #DefendDurham video challenge. Participants can share a 30-second video on social media (with the hashtag) explaining the reasons for their support and demanding that all charges be dropped.

The tribunal has been posted on Facebook, and will be livestreamed.

Since promoting these #DefendDurham initiatives, activists have been threatened by local white supremacists. Last week, a camera recorded two hooded figures posting an anti-Semitic, anti-communist flyer on the door of the Durham Solidarity Center. The flyer displayed Nazi slogans.

This racist crime and others across Durham have only affirmed the necessity for a People’s Tribunal. “I think that the experience of a lot of people, particularly people of color, poor and working-class people, is that there is not justice in the courts,” said Elena Everett, an anti-racist defendant.

“If we can’t find justice in the courts, then we need to create our own spaces to get real stories of what is going on in our communities so that we can come up with our own solutions.”

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