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Charges dropped against Durham protesters in Confederate statue incident

Durham District Attorney Roger Echols dropped the remaining charges against protesters accused of helping to topple a Confederate statue last summer.

The move came a day after District Court Judge Frederick S. Battaglia Jr. threw out charges against two other suspects and a third was found not guilty.

Echols, who previously signaled he would take into account the political atmosphere and circumstances when bringing charges, said he believed misdemeanor charges were appropriate.

Durham District Attorney Roger Echols

“Acts of vandalism, regardless of noble intent, are still violations of law,” Echols said in a statement Tuesday.

But the evidence for the remaining five suspects was much the same as that against those whose charges were dismissed on Monday, Echols said.

“For my office to continue to take these cases to trial based on the same evidence would be a misuse of state resources,” Echols said.

Whitley Carpenter helped represent the defendants as part of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s Criminal Justice litigation team. She applauded Echols’ decision Tuesday.

“The statue that was torn down was a symbol of white supremacy that has no place in front of the public buildings that represent our community,” Carpenter said in a statement.  “We applaud the District Attorney for finally dropping the charges in this case.  It’s time for us to recognize that these symbols of hate create division within our communities.  We need to make monuments to the ill-conceived project of white supremacy a thing of the past.”

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