The nine activists accused of toppling a confederate monument in Durham are no longer facing criminal charges. But they say their fight against racism will continue.
For Raul Jimenez, who was acquitted Monday, that means speaking out against gentrification and homelessness, and fighting for immigrant rights.
“What got me involved was just a strong sense of what needs to happen and what needs to be done for the people of this city and for the people of this state,” he said. “To have better lives, have better jobs, better wages…[to] just be free and have that liberation.”
The Durham District Attorney announced Tuesday that pursuing cases against the nine defendants would be a misuse of state funds. They had faced charges of injury to real property, defacing a public monument, and conspiracy to deface a public monument. On Monday, a judge acquitted and dismissed the cases of three of the defendants on the basis of insufficient evidence.
Jimenez said these actions send a clear message.
“Tearing white supremacy down is not a crime,” Jimenez said. “That tearing down symbols of white supremacy is not a crime. That the people deserve the right to tear down any symbol, any form of oppression in their city, in their state, wherever they live.”
The confederate monument that stood in front of Durham’s old courthouse was erected in 1924. It was part of a wave of such monuments that went up at a time of intense, reactionary racism against African-Americans.
The monument is now out of sight, but Takiyah Thompson, another defendant, said there's more work to be done. Thompson was set to appear in court in April, but two days ago the District Attorney in Durham announced he was dropping the charges against her.
“As part of the continuing struggle against racism and injustice, we have to go on to fight gentrification, to fight homelessness, to fight school closures, to fight jail deaths, to fight for clean waters,” Thompson said. “All of these are black issues.”