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Protesters Want All Charges Against Monument Topplers Dropped

About two dozen protesters with the #DefendDurham movement called on District Attorney Roger Echols on Tuesday to drop criminal charges against nine people connected to the toppling of a confederate monument. Last week, prosecutors dropped charges against three people connected to the crime, but charges – including felonies – against other defendants remain in place.

"We see this in the historical legacy of the people who broke the law to steal away enslaved Africans even though it was illegal," said Pierce Freelon, a community advocate and former mayoral candidate. "Because that's the work that needs to be done to build the world that we need to see and that we know that we can have."

Echols could not immediately be reached for comment. After the protest, a secretary at the district attorney's office said he was not prepared to comment. There were initial reports that some charges had already been dropped against more defendants, but that turned out to be a false report.

Debate about the place of Confederate-era monuments has reached a boiling point in recent months, with some arguing the statues glorify a racist history of the United States while others say they honor fallen soldiers. Even the N.C. Historical Commission – usually tucked in a sleepy corner of state government – has been forced into the debate as it grapples with what to do with monuments by the historic Capitol building in downtown Raleigh.

Jason deBruyn is the WUNC health reporter, a beat he took in 2020. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016.
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