Feb 19 Durham, NC Anti-racist defendants return to court – Updates from the front-lines

   Updates from the Front-lines in Durham   

February 12, 2018

  1. Felony riot charges dropped; 3 misdemeanor charges remain with trails to commence Feb. 19
  2.  August 18 anti-klan protesters defeat charges
  3. “Topple Racism: #doitlikedurham”
    national speaking tour
  4. First Peoples Tribunal Against Racism & Repression
    held in Durham on Jan 13 – more to follow

Durham anti-racist activists
defeat felony riot charges

Trial to begin to defend against remaining charges on Feb. 19

Takiyah Thompson and seven anti-racist activists go to trial in Durham district court on Monday, Feb 19.  They are charged in connection with the toppling of the Confederate monument in Durham on August 14, 2017. Defendants scored a major victory in January when all felony charges against them were dropped.  Three misdemeanor charges remain.

The removal of the statue took place during a vigil and rally with hundreds present, two days after the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA. Dozens of anti-racist protesters were injured, and one, Heather Heyer, killed when a white supremacist member of the American Vanguard Party drove his car into a crowd.

The Confederate Statue, which stood outside the old Durham Courthouse, was erected in 1924 at a moment in history that simultaneously saw the growth of Durham’s “Black Wall Street.”

In the aftermath of the statue removal, Durham Sheriff Mike Andrews raided homes of local activists and arrested more than a dozen people. Durhamites continue to demand accountability from Sherriff Andrews for nearly a dozen deaths in the county jail during his tenure, including 17-year-old, Uniece “Neicey” Fennell. Migrant rights activists have also challenged the Sheriff’s ongoing collaboration with ICE enforcement that has resulted in dozens of deportation orders, including against high school student Wildin Acosta, who was picked up at his bus stop.

After six months of mobilizations at court hearings, dozens of solidarity actions and  statements, and thousands of phone calls to city, county, and state officials, felony riot charges were dropped.

The eight defendants each face three misdemeanor charges: 

  • defacing a public building or monument
  • conspiracy to deface a public building or monument
  • injury to real property

The defendants continue to affirm that removing symbols of white supremacy from public spaces is not a crime. Given that the 2015 preemption law prohibiting local governments from taking action to remove monuments, their alleged role in the actions should be considered a community service, necessary to the health and well-being of their community.

Defendants invite all those who choose to side against racism and white supremacy to come to Durham on February 19 and 20 to pack the courts and show solidarity with the ongoing struggles against monuments to racism.

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AUGUST 18
Anti-Klan Protesters Defeat Charges

Thousands poured into the Durham streets on Aug. 18 and kept them free of white supremacy when the KKK threatened to march in opposition to the freedom fighters. Caravans of activists from around the U.S. travelled to Durham on Sept. 12 to defend the felony-charged anti-racists at their first court date. Solidarity messages poured in from around the globe, with much international press and video coverage.

Another four activists had been arrested at the Aug. 18 action in Durham. They were charged with wearing masks or carrying weapons at a demonstration. On Feb. 8, one accepted a plea deal and charges against the other three were dismissed on Constitutional grounds.

All charges had previously been dropped against three other activists from the Aug. 14 toppling rally. A fourth activist accepted a plea bargain deal.
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Upcoming National #ToppleRacism
#TakeEmDown #DoItLikeDurham Tour

Inspired by the organizing in communities across the south, from New Orleans, to Memphis, to San Antonio, to Charlottesville, and beyond, we are excited to announce that Takiyah Thompson and her co-defendants from Durham, NC to launch a national speaking tour in 2018.

Unions, universities, and community organizations can request a tour stop in their area  by filling out this request form.

The speaking tour will partner with organizers, leaders, and anti-racist fighters to:

  • Uplift the history of state-sanctioned white supremacy in the U.S., particularly in the U.S. South – from colonization and the slave economy, to the Civil War, to the reversal of Reconstruction, all the way through the Civil Rights Movement to the present,
  •  Examine the features, roots, and leading figures of the emerging new-Confederate movement and its connections to the alt-right movement, and
  • Center the voices of Frontlines activists as they share their views on tactics and strategies to build an effective fight back against the growing tide of racism, reaction, and neo-fascism, which is being emboldened by the Trump regime.

To sign up to host a tour date: fill out this form.
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People’s Tribunal Finds
the State ‘Guilty as Hell’

Durham community members and activists held a People’s Tribunal on Jan. 13 to put the  state on trial for racist crimes against the people. This dynamic and creative event allowed survivors of the racist state violence to speak their truth and be affirmed in it.

The following charges were brought against former North Carolina Speaker of the House and current U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper, Durham Sheriff Mike Andrews, Durham District Attorney Roger Echols, and President Donald Trump:

  • Conspiracy and Obstruction of Justice – to unjustly thwart
    the will of the people and uphold white supremacy through
    pre-emption laws
  • Collusion with special interests to profit off the misery of communities of color and poor and working-class people
  • Negligent and Serial Homicide – in public jails and detention centers
  • Real Crimes Against the People – racism, poverty, homelessness, choosing profit over people

The event featured testimony from a range of area residents. George Roberson, a longtime Durham resident whose family relocated after his grandfather was killed by the Ku Klux Klan, testified on how it felt as a kid to walk by the Confederate monument on his way to court. “My heart sunk when I looked at the statue,” Roberson declared.

After hearing powerful and vivid testimony from community members throughout the day, the jury, which comprised of the entire audience, unanimously held up “guilty as hell” signs, chanting, “The people have decided!”

More Peoples Tribunals are planned for the near future.

 

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