A 22-year-old college student, Takiyah Thompson, was placed under arrest after allegedly toppling a confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina to protest white supremacy.
According to the Root, Thompson was placed in custody on August 15, in a scene captured in videos you can see below. More arrests were expected. Other activists have labeled Thompson a “freedom fighter” on Twitter and are raising money for her legal defense.
The Confederate Soldiers Monument in Durham was dedicated in 1924 and stood in front of a government office building. The statue’s toppling came after an alleged Hitler admirer was accused of ramming into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing paralegal Heather Heyer.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Witnesses said Thompson Put a Noose Around the Statue’s Neck, Reports Say
According to the Root, witnesses identified Thompson as “the activist that climbed a ladder and put a noose around the neck of the statue” on August 14.
“I’m tired of white supremacy keeping its foot on my neck and the necks of people who look like me,” Thompson said at a news conference. “That statue glorifies the conditions that oppressed people live in, and it had to go.”
“It was time for it to go,” Thompson said in an interview with BBC.
She told ABC11, “The people decided to take matters into our own hands and remove the statue. We are tired of waiting on politicians who could have voted to remove the white supremacist statues years ago, but they failed to act. So we acted.”
2. Thompson Is a College Student in North Carolina
According to Fox News, Thompson is a student at North Carolina Central University, a historically black college.
One woman posted on Instagram that she is Thompson’s teacher. She wrote, “My student, Takiyah Thompson, was arrested this afternoon on NCCU’s campus during a press conference. At the same time that she was being arrested, the homes of her comrades were raided by the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. In this moment of Charlottesville, they are going to try and make an example of her, THE Black woman. She’s brave, but she is afraid.”
According to ABC11, Thompson is a “member of the far-left Workers World Party.”
There was a legal defense fund established to help the people arrested.
3. Thompson Is Facing Multiple Criminal Charges, Including Felonies, for the Statue’s Toppling
According to The Root, Thompson has been hit with two felonies and two misdemeanor charges.
Thompson is charged with “disorderly conduct by injury to a statue, which is a Class 2 misdemeanor; damage to real property (in this case a statue, which is a fixture), a Class 1 misdemeanor; participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500, a Class H felony; and inciting others to riot where there is property damage in excess of $1,500, which is a Class F felony,” reported The Root.
Fox News reports that a North Carolina prevents “removing such monuments on public property without permission from state officials.” However, Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor of North Carolina, has joined in calls to remove the remaining confederate statues in the state, tweeting, “The racism and deadly violence in Charlottesville is unacceptable but there is a better way to remove these monuments.”
4. The Sheriff Said ‘No One Is Getting Away With This’
After the statute came down, Durham County Sheriff Michael D. Andrews said deputies would work to identify the people involved.
“No one is getting away with this,” said Andrews, according to WNCN-TV. “We can all agree yesterday went too far,” he said.
The sheriff also called the protesters’ actions “a blatant violation of the law.”
Fitzhugh Brundage, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told WRAL, “If we were to remove every Confederate sculpture from this state, there would still be all of the buildings named after Confederates. There would still be all of the streets named after Confederates. The likelihood that we’re going to somehow erase the Confederacy from the North Carolina landscape, I think, is pretty slim.”
5. People Kicked & Spat on the Statue After Pulling It Down
WNCN-TV described what happened when protesters pulled down the confederate statute. “A woman using a ladder climbed the statue of a Confederate soldier and attached a rope around the statue. Moments later, the crowd pulled on the rope and the statue fell. One man quickly ran up and spat on the statue and several others began kicking it.”