Following last weekend’s violent White nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va., which left one woman dead and countless others injured, anti-racism and civil rights activists have been taking to the streets to call for equality and the dismantling of a confederacy that still looms large in the United State of America.
One of those activists was 22-year-old Takiyah Thompson, who, with the help of others, succeeded in toppling a confederate statue in North Carolina on Monday. But instead of the pass that appeared to be given to White supremacists who were caught on tape beating non-violent protesters, Thompson was promptly arrested Tuesday as she left the communications building at North Carolina Central University, shortly after Durham County Sheriff Michael D. Andrews declared that he would use “every legal option available” to find those responsible for tearing down the statue.
Never mind that Gov. Roy Cooper declared Tuesday — as Thompson was being arrested — that he wanted to bring down confederate monuments in North Carolina, the student was still charged with two felonies for inciting and participating in a riot where property damage exceeds $1,500 and two misdemeanors for disorderly conduct and damage to property. It didn’t take long for Twitter users to rally around Thompson, who smartly pointed out that the call to arrest activists who participated in the take down of the confederate statues was prioritized over finding the men who beat and bloodied a young Black man, identified as Deandre Harris, in a parking lot over the weekend.
“We cannot continue to glorify a war against the United States of America fought in the defense of slavery,” Cooper said. “These monuments should come down.”
So why is Thompson still facing felony charges?
As pointed out by the New York Times, legal options for taking down confederate statues are few, given the legislation that protects the monuments.
From the Times: A 2015 state law bans the removal of monuments and other landmarks without state approval. That law was passed by the Republican Legislature and signed by former Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, during a debate over the removal of a Confederate statue known as “Silent Sam” on the campus of the University of North Carolina in nearby Chapel Hill. That statue was covered with a hood during a protest after the violence in Charlottesville.
In addition to their being very little legislation to protect Thompson, the Times reports that there is a bill that could grant immunity to “drivers who hit protesters,” like James Alex Fields, the White supremacist who killed paralegal Heather Heyer when he mowed down anti-racism activists over the weekend.
Her bond set at $10,000, Thompson was reportedly released from jail Tuesday night, but still faces an uphill battle for standing up to racism.
“I am tired of white supremacy keeping its foot on my neck and the neck of people who look like me,” Thompson said about her decision to tear down the symbol of the confederacy. “I was inspired by a history of black activists and history of black organizing.”
To demand the District Attorney drop all charges against Thompson, you can call 919-808-3010.