Update on the struggle in Durham

In the last week, the fight against fascism has escalated, particularly here in the Southern United States. First, in Charlottesville, Va., thousands showed up to counter-protest fascists of all stripes. In the aftermath of this confrontation, a fascist murdered one of our comrades, Heather Heyer.

Two days later, a group of socialists and communists in Durham, N.C., led by Workers World Party member Takiyah Thompson, pulled down a monument to slave owners in that city. Police arrested and raided the homes of many of these comrades.

We spoke with Erin from Workers World Party – Baltimore (also a Forge contributor) who spent some time with some of the comrades in Durham this week.

The following is our conversation:

Q: You were talking to comrades related to the pulling down of the confederate statue this week. What are they charged with? What could the penalties be?

A: Right now, eight defendants have been charged with felonies related to inciting a riot and misdemeanors for destruction of property. Felony convictions bring with them the possibility of a year or more in state prison. Other possibilities include fines or probation.

Q:  Are all of the defendants out of jail now?

A: Yes, all defendants are out of jail and have been assigned another court date in September. This is all thanks, in no small part, to those that donated to the Durham Solidarity Center Bond Fund.

Q: How are they feeling right now?

A: The defendants I interacted with are completely spent. They have been dealing with death threats, raids on their homes by the Sheriff, coordinating legal representation, all while trying to continue on with their daily lives.

Q: There were hundreds of people who attempted to turn themselves in to police in solidarity with the comrades who tore down the statue. What is their status?

A:Those people were turned away. The display of solidarity must continue, however, as the it will most certainly have an effect on the DA’s decision to pursue the charges brought by the Sheriff. One city council person claimed they received thousands of emails from those in support of the defendants.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: The people of Durham took that statue down because they had no legal redress due to a 2015 law making it illegal for local officials to remove confederate monuments. The people of Durham, in the form of a young, Black, queer, socialist, woman, exercised the will of the people with the removal of the shameful monument.

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