Durham sheriff's statement on damage to Confederate monument

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews' statement on Aug. 14, 2017, protest that damaged a Confederate monument:

"I am grateful the events that unfolded Monday evening did not result in serious injury or the loss of life, but the planned demonstration should serve as a sobering example of the price we all pay when civil disobedience is no longer civil.

"Before the protest, my staff met with our community partners to discuss how to safely and appropriately respond to the protest. County leaders were aware of the risk of damage to the Confederate statute, as well as, the potential risk of injury to the public and officers should deputies attempt to control the crowd. Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority.

"As the Sheriff, I am not blind to the offensive conduct of some demonstrators nor will I ignore their criminal conduct. With the help of video captured at the scene, my investigators are working to identify those responsible for the removal and vandalism of the statue.

"My deputies showed great restraint and respect for the constitutional rights of the group expressing their anger and disgust for recent events in our country. Racism and incivility have no place in our country or Durham. I am asking both city and county leaders to establish guidelines and safe spaces for protesters to prevent demonstrations from becoming disruptive and as we witnessed in Charlottesville, dangerous. Rightfully, Durham County and the City of Durham have a longstanding respect for the right of peaceable assembly.

"Recently, the Sheriff’s Office’s decision to arrest demonstrators at a public meeting was challenged in the court of law. My Agency has been the focus of demonstrations for more than a year, most of them peaceful. However, now may be the time for Durham to consider what is the best way to respond to continued protests while respecting every resident’s right to voice their opinion."