Local News

Durham County Major: Officials should handle demonstrations, vandalism differently

Posted August 25
Updated August 26

— 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."


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  • Michael Parker Aug 26, 8:48 p.m.
    user avatar

    If you're blocking traffic and trying to prevent me from getting where I need to be, I'm not stopping, I will push you out of the way with my car, no hesitation! How does making people angry by blocking traffic help your cause? I know this though, if those people don't get charged for tipping that statue over, or if it happens again, an MLK statue is next. If people shouldn't think that all muslims are terrorists, why do so many people think that everyone who supports the Confederacy supports racism? I love the southern way of life, and that's what the flag means to me, and the statues represent good men that died trying to preserve that way of life (and no I'm not talking about owning slaves, the North did that as well, even after the South stopped); this was a very important period of our countries history, & trying to erase that history by taking any statues down that could be connected to slavery in any possible way is a horrible thing to do! The world is so sensitive these days!

  • Jackie Strouble Aug 26, 3:58 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    From their website: "Statement from the Durham Police Department Regarding Protest at County Courthouse

    Durham Police Department (DPD) officers monitored the protests that occurred in the city tonight to ensure the protests were conducted in a safe manner and that no infractions occurred within city jurisdiction.

    The DPD is aware that a Confederate monument was toppled at the old Durham County courthouse. Because this incident occurred on county property, where county law enforcement officials were staffed, no arrests were made by DPD officers.

    The Durham County Sheriff’s Office is the agency that has jurisdiction over all county buildings and landmarks. When monitoring such incidents the Sheriff’s Office is the decision-making agency regarding law enforcement response on matters concerning county property."

  • Randall Lamm Aug 26, 12:44 p.m.
    user avatar

    Ms. Tally,
    If the courthouse is within the city limits of Durham, it IS in fact within the geographical, territorial and subject matter jurisdiction of the Durham Police Department. It would not surprise me to learn that either A) The police said they were not getting involved in this, OR B) There was a meeting beforehand and an agreement between the city and county departments as to how this would be handled.

  • Colin Burch III Aug 26, 12:07 p.m.
    user avatar

    Our freedom to demonstrate does not include a freedom to destroy. Anyone who destroys property, regardless of the political climate, should be held accountable according to the law. If any elected or appointed officials condone destruction of property then they share guilt in the crime and have no place in government service. Regarding inanimate objects, has the removal of any stature created any jobs, opened any doors for opportunity, changed anybody's opinion and, most importantly, done anything to bring people together towards a culture of love and acceptance? There are better activities that benefit the community which could use the energy expended.
    “... , we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence." Martin Luther Kin

  • Linda Tally Aug 26, 9:14 a.m.
    user avatar

    The county courthouse is not within the purview of the city police department, Mr. Morron. That's why it is the COUNTY courthouse. It was the Sheriff's Department who had the authority there. And that department used the amount of force necessary to ensure the people who did the tearing down were apprehended. And they were, with nobody else getting hurt. How much blood would you have preferred?

  • Sherri Steve Gillikin Aug 26, 6:24 a.m.
    user avatar

    Thank you Major for having the courage to say what most Americans feel and support. Anarchy and chaos are being perpetuated and supported by politicians and others. This will lead to and end in bloodshed if the rule of law is ignored.

  • Dean Morron Aug 26, 5:43 a.m.
    user avatar

    The Durham Police Dept. headquarters was less than 2 minutes away from the downtown area where the statue was torn down. Why didn't police respond and use physical force to stop this act ? I wonder how these same politicians would react if there was a mob in front of their homes wanting to tear that ( their home ) down. After all, I'm sure their homes offend someone for some obscure, unknown reason.