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Durham DA to drop felony charges in toppling of Confederate statue

The Durham District Attorney said Tuesday morning that media reports saying that felony charges had been dropped for seven people involved in toppling a Confederate statue were premature.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols said Thursday that he intends to drop all felony charges against those arrested in an August protest in which a Confederate monument outside the old county courthouse was pulled down.
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Echols said he plans to prosecute the eight defendants only on misdemeanor charges of defacing a public building or monument, conspiracy to deface a public building or monument and injury to real property. Felony charges of participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot where property damage exceeds $1,500 haven't formally been dismissed, but Echols said he won't pursue them.

During an Aug. 14 protest – days after a violent clash in Charlottesville, Va., over a plan to remove a Confederate statue there – demonstrators used a ladder to scale the base of the Confederate statue in front of the former Durham County Courthouse, put a strap around it and pulled it to the ground, where it crumpled in a heap of metal.

The case has prompted repeated rallies by other demonstrators demanding that all charges be dismissed.

"This is an incredible victory that is a testament to the will of the people to struggle for freedom and liberation, the same will we saw expressed in Durham on August 14," Takiyah Thompson, one of the defendants, said in a statement.

All eight face a Feb. 19 trial.


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