Durham County Major: Officials should handle demonstrations, vandalism differently
Posted August 25
Updated August 26
Durham, N.C. — Major Paul Martin, of the Durham County Sheriff's Office, addressed concerns Friday night over recent demonstrations in Durham and county leaders' reactions.
Martin said protestors in recent demonstrations have broken multiple laws, including vandalism when a confederate statue was brought down in Durham.
Martin wanted to be clear that his opinion is his own and is not representative of the Durham County Sheriff's Office.
"It is going to cause injuries in the community and cause people to get killed," Martin said.
Martin said elected leaders are not helping the situation.
"People in leadership positions making excuses for it because they think they have the same political leanings as those people engaged in that destruction," he said.
Durham County Commission Chair Wendy Jacobs addressed Martin's concerns.
"I think, at the end of the day, none of us want there to be chaos and anarchy," Jacobs said.
Earlier this month, Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols discussed how he would prosecute those that brought down the statue.
"A just resolution also includes balancing accountability for the actual destruction of property in violation of the law with the climate, in which these were undertaken," Echols said.
Jacobs said she agrees with that approach. She says she participated in non-violent civil disobedience in the past, and accepted the consequences.
"Anyone who chose to participate in pulling down the statue must be willing to also be responsible for their actions," Jacobs said.
Major Martin first shared his concerns in an email to WRAL News:
"Some of the political leadership in Durham is in the process of establishing a dangerous precedent," Martin said in the email. "Should law enforcement determine the severity of charges for persons who destroy or deface monuments based upon the political leanings of county commissioners?"
"Political leanings must not constitute the elements of a crime. Murder is murder and vandalism is vandalism. This is a recipe for absolute anarchy that totally undermines the constitution of this country."