Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols made a public statement Thursday on the cases of 8 activists so far charged in the toppling of a Confederate monument in Durham on Monday.
Echols took no questions after the statement, saying to do so would be a violation of the rules of professional conduct.
His statement in full:
“I am waiting to receive the full investigation material from the Durham County Sheriff’s department, including the video used to identify those charged.
I will not prosecute any people who simply participated in the protest and were not directly involved in destruction of the monument. I will ask the county manager to consult with the county commissioners and provide me with a proper financial value for the monument and the cost of cleanup.
As District Attorney for Durham, it is my job to seek a just resolution in this matter. A just resolution will include an analysis of the property damage. A just resolution must also include balancing accountability for the actual destruction of property and violation of the law with the climate in which these actions were undertaken. Justice requires that I must take into account the pain of the recent events in Charlottesville and the pain in Durham and the nation. Justice requires that I consider that Durham citizens have no proper recourse for asking our local government to relocate or remove this monument. Justice also requires that I be aware that asking people to be patient and to let various government institutions address injustice is sometimes asking more than those who have been historically ignored, marginalized or harmed by a system cane bare.
Thank you for your attention and for your support of Durham and our vibrant community.”
Four activists were arrested earlier this week: Takiyah Fatima Thompson, 22; Dante Emmanuel Strobino, 35; Peter Hull Gilbert, 36; and Ngoc Loan Tran, 24.
Thompson, who climbed the statue and affixed a rope to help pull it down, was arrested on Tuesday. The arrests of Strobino, Tran and Gilbert all followed on Wednesday.
On Thursday another four turned themselves in to the Durham Sheriff’s Department. They are Aaron Caldwell, 24; Elena Everett, 37; Taylor Alexander Jun Cook, 24 and Raul Mauro Arce Jimenez, 26.
All eight activists have been charged with disorderly conduct by injury to a statue and damage to real property. Those are both which are both misdemeanors. They are also charged with participation in a riot with property damage in excess of $1,500 and inciting others to riot where property damage exceeds $1,500, both of which are felonies.
A rally was held Thursday at which supporters of those arrested called for the dropping of charges. Dozens also offered to be arrested to symbolically share responsibility for the toppling of the monument, but the Sheriff’s department declined to arrest anyone without an active warrant.